Telefonica’s Huawei vEPC deal is not an Ericsson-ouster

Ericsson still involved in Telefonica Unica project, Huawei vEPC deal marks move to multi-vendor integration between cloud infrastructure and network applications.

Telefonica today released the news that it is working with Huawei to deploy Huawei’s vEPC solution as a Virtual Network Function in 11 countires as part of Telefonica’s Unica network transformation project.

The deal has been reported as an important win for Huawei, and so it is. A large part of the value of NFV projects will lie in the VNFs themselves – such as the vEPC. Huawei will be rightly pleased that it has won this stage of the implementation of the UNICA programme.

Is it a blow to Ericsson and Nokia? Just under a year ago, following prior work with HPE, the operator had announced that it would be working with Ericsson for that vendor to provide the infrastructure and software required to implement the UNICA concept. Starting in Germany Ericsson would be providing its Hyperscale Datacenter System 8000, Ericsson Cloud Manager, OpenStack based Cloud Execution Environment, Cloud SDN and automation technology.

So what is the implication for Ericsson of Huawei gaining the first deal for a VNF to run on that infrastructure? First, although no doubt Ericsson would have loved to win the contract for the vEPC, the award to Huawei could be seen as an endorsement of Ericsson’s Cloud infrastructure and management. A major point of NFV and SDN transformation from a service provider point of view is to enable an interoperable network environment in which VNFs (network applications) can be onboarded and  then managed on “neutral” infrastructure.

It appears that is what is happening here. The Telefonica Group CTO Office confirmed to TMN:

“Yes, we are working with Ericsson on the virtual infrastructure and Cloud management aspects in Germany, and in the rest of our footprint.

“[The] Large scale vEPC network will interact with Ericsson´s cloud infrastructure and management as part of UNICA Infra Program.

Quoting its own press release the Office added: “Telefónica and Huawei are currently testing the onboarding of the CloudEPC solution over Telefónica´s UNICA infra cloud platform that will allow full automatisation of the vEPC deployments and life cycle management within Telefónica networks.”

That appears to be confirmation that the CloudEPC VNF will be tested against and with Ericsson cloud infrastructure, using Ericsson’s automated deployment and life cycle management where appropriate.