Barry Hill, the man entrusted with bringing Oracle’s NFV strategy to market, has laid out his plans for how he expects the company to approach the telco virtualisation opportunity.
Oracle was hit last year when Alcatel-Lucent picked up its Communciations business unit leader Bhaskar Gorti to become the new President of its IP Platforms business.
Hill, who has stints with Stoke (Now Mavenir/Mitel), Connectem (soon to be Brocade) and HP behind him, was appointed at Oracle in September 2014 as Global Head of NFV. Speaking to TMN last week, he was in bullish and quotable form, saying of Oracle’s NFV ambitions: “We demand and deserve a seat at the table.”
Hill said that Oracle is uniquely positioned to address the data-driven, cloud-based network opportunity. He sketched out a strategy where orchestration of Virtual Network Functions becomes truly active and dynamic, with orchestrators fed via policy engines with live network data that is then accepted and acted upon in an automated way.
This would drive not just network transformation but business transformation, he said, enabling models such as customer self-serve.
“If you believe that the network is going to be a cloud-based, software-defined network driven by analytics and data – then of course Oracle is going to be involved.”
“We already have a role in the network – and a substantial one with the AcmePacket and Tekelec acquisitions, but if you combine those assets with our already substantial OSS and BSS assets we’ve actually got something that very few other companies, if any, have got.
“If you believe that the network is going to be a cloud based, software defined network driven by analytics and data – then of course Oracle is going to be involved.”
Hill said that up to now the company has been “delivering against our commitments for the acquisitions we made” but that it would now step up a gear as the company addresses the possibilities enabled by virtualisation.
“We believe we have got some opinions about how you should deploy this virtualisation stuff that puts us way ahead of the competition – not a bit ahead, way ahead.
“So we are getting more and more aggressive about making the sort of statements that say we want to have a seat at the table that previously was dominated by Ericsson, Huawei, Cisco, Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent. It’s a different business, a different game – the world has just changed.”
Hill said that current orchestrators, including Oracle’s, are at 1.0 level – statically connecting VNFs as a VNF manager. Level 2.0 would take that and add the ability to dynamically change VNFs, driven by network analytics.
“Amdoc has got one, Cisco has got one, who doesn’t have an orchestrator? So if you think this orchestration thing is going to be a very important aspect of changing your network – Oracle is saying, ‘You don’t want to just orchestrate a static service, you want to have it active, be able to change, add capacity, a service, a customer with very little human involvement. And the way you do that is through orchestration with a powerful analytics capability – so you can consume gobs of data coming out of network, analyse it and feed it back into network to create the concept of JIT services – where you are mapping supply and demand.”
Hill said that would necessitate feeding data through a policy framework which rules what you can and can’t do in the network, before sending to the orchestrator to make the change.
“So this is the idea of intelligent, dynamic, orchestration of the network, and that is something we think we can do and will do better than anyone else.”
The third piece, for Hill, is Orchestration 3.0 – being able to map this network to business transformation. “What carriers are saying is how do you transform the business and not just the network. We are so caught up on ‘can I run on x86 and blah blah’ – it’s just a bunch of technical guys – but the CFO is trying to work out how transform the business.”
“That’s where the magic is. The trouble is the world of business orchestration speaks a different language to the network guys, so we have to think about driving a common service description language, common data models, to be able to orchestrate things so that the business drives the network and the network doesn’t drive the business. I think we’re in a beautiful position to be able to do that.”
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
So what are the pieces that Oracle holds that Hill thinks will drive this data driven, analytics-fed, orchestrated, virtualised network? He states that when he was brought on board the company had three lines of business within its Communications Unit – its OSS/BSS unit, the AcmePacket (SBCs) and the Tekelec (Diamter Signalling, Policy) lines of business.
“NFV doesn’t work in one business line, so what we are doing is instead of going out and talking about this great product X or Y – carriers want to see an example of a solution scenario that we can deploy and instantiate using the principles of NFV, and which proves to them that we get it.”
“So now we are going to take it to the next stage and bring this all together so show how, for example, you can do an intelligent VoLTE implementation using orchestration capabilities and our assets. You’re going to see us doing things like bringing up service in minutes instead of months. You are going to see us talking about things like zero touch orchestration and operations management.”
MORE QUOTES AND PARTNERING
“You have got to have a vision and capture the imagination – but you have to deliver right after otherwise it becomes a little bit hollow.”
“We are excited about it, this is not a question of is this going to happen, it’s just when and how effectively and efficiently you do it, how you deploy it.”
“People say you guys don’t partner very much but in our OSS space we have over 100 plug-in cartridges for activating existing network equipment. We get it – we know how to do it. But we also believe you’ve got to have some of your own assets in the network. So you’ve got to have some of your own stuff to build this foundation and then you can drop in and drop out innovative functions whenever you like. That’s what carriers say they want. You can’t build it out of bits and pieces – you want to have a foundation.”
“We will have VNFs and they will be the best VNFs in the world, and they will commit to the standards that are being driven by ETSI or whoever ends up doing it going forward. We will also orchestrate other VNFs, you can’t just orchestrate your own stuff – that’s Ericsson.”