Virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE) is one of the first network functions virtualization (NFV) services that communications service providers are interested in rolling out, but to make the business case successful, they need to work with existing cloud providers like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, says Dr. Eyal Felstaine, Vice President and Head of Amdocs’ Orchestration Group.
Felstaine discussed the vCPE use case and presented details about Amdocs’ new orchestration solution called Cloud-Fusion at TM Forum Live! 2016 earlier this month. The orchestrator has been developed in partnership with Microsoft.
Today communications service providers are stuck with only two options for providing cloud-based applications to enterprise customers – they can try to compete head to head with cloud services like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, delivering applications like virtual firewalls or customer relationship management along with connectivity, or they can settle for just selling connectivity and leaving the cloud apps to the over-the-top (OTT) providers. In that case the enterprise is responsible for cobbling together its own end-to-end solution, which isn’t an easy feat.
Know your strengths
“Operators have never been very successful at imitating the approach that Google, Facebook and Amazon have been doing,” Felstaine says. “If you’re an operator, you need to invest a lot of money to build compute strength – a lot of servers – before you know how successful you will become as a vCPE provider. So there’s a lot of spending coming before revenue.”
But if they settle for just selling connectivity, that amounts to providing dumb pipes, which doesn’t offer any opportunities for new revenue. Amdocs is proposing a third option: a hybrid cloud solution, where the network operator becomes the single point of contact for the enterprise for all applications and services by handling the orchestration for all the parties involved including the cloud provider.
“This case – where it’s a huge mess for the customer unless someone takes care of the orchestration – is a golden opportunity [for operators]because of one single NFV orchestrator that is running on the operator’s premises, which can manage the entire service from the enterprise through the telecom network until it gets to the third-party cloud,” Felstaine explains. “The enterprise customer looks at only one provider of the service. All the sites in this context are served by the operator, but there is one orchestrator taking care of all.”
This “uber-orchestrator” as Felstaine calls it is responsible for orchestrating a service end to end. He gave an example of a company using a Wowza streaming media application hosted on Microsoft Azure, which is purchased, provisioned and billed through the orchestrator operating in the telco’s data center.
This gives the enterprise customer a “single throat to choke” and also gives the network operator the ability to collect some of the revenue it’s been missing out on. Felstaine says this model works because Microsoft is not interested in becoming a connectivity provider but knows its customers want bundled connectivity and service assurance.
“MS is not that interested in taking the liability of managing an overlay of VPN networks throughout operators’ networks,” he explains. “They are very flexible and comfortable with the operator owning the relationship because at end of day there is a lot of specialty and expertise required.”
Watch Felstaine’s entire presentation: