Insights from Orange Spain: how NFV and 5G are changing the way we work

The transformation of 5G services with Network Function Virtualization (NFV) has created a huge paradigm shift, and the impact this will have on service provider-vendor relationships is often overlooked. These relationships will no longer be based on traditional procurement processes and will instead rely heavily on collaboration. In our latest on-demand webinar, a fresh approach to virtualization, Orange Spain shared key learnings from their NFV journey. Here, we discuss them further.

Alexis Salas, Orange Spain

The traditional operator-vendor relationship in the telecoms industry has been characterized by strict procurement processes with frequent RFI’s (request for information) and RFQ’s (request for quotation). This is largely because mobile network solutions and interfaces have been based on ETSI or 3GPP standards since the advent of 2G. This era was also characterized by large investments, as seen in the global rollouts of 3G and the formation of large multi-country operators like Vodafone and Telefonica.

The advantage for operators was that they could keep costs down, and it was easy to understand what vendors were responsible for.  

Large vendors – generally – were granted end-to-end responsibility, even if not all services were provided by them. Traditionally, they also helped customers solve complicated problems, and it was convenient for operators to have one point of contact for these problems.


How 5G is transforming the way we do business

The 5G transformation started with NFV for core networks, which has been – and still is – difficult. This presents a paradigm shift in several areas, including Physical Network Functions (PNF) and Virtual Network Functions (VNF), with new types of hardware, much more software, orchestration domains and new ways to operate networks.


The impact of the ‘best of breed’ strategy

Standardization has also evolved, and there have been technical issues with the integration of various components in the Network Function Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI) and VNF’s. Also, the push for ‘no vendor lock in’ has led many tier one operators to purchase ‘best of breed’ components from different vendors and integrate them themselves. For many, this has been challenging. The traditional procurement model has been less effective as the components are difficult to compare due to the lack of standards. Also, it is not as easy to make a single vendor responsible for performance.


The Orange example: all under one roof

Orange Spain experienced these challenges as they began their NFV transformation journey several years ago. After some initial challenges, they decided to adopt a step-by-step approach, starting with the less challenging VNF’s that don’t require scaling and heavy payloads.

Another new approach was to work more collaboratively with vendors; which was the “all under one-roof’ approach that made it possible to launch their vEPC operations in 2019.

With 5G on the horizon, it’s clear that partnerships will be increasingly important; no one can do everything by themselves. The new telco cloud platforms are also built to support VNF’s and CNF’s (cloud native containerized applications) from multiple vendors, and the exposure of network APIs will continue to make room for innovative new services.

Learn more about Orange Spain’s NFV transformation in this presentation from Alexis Salas, Director of Cloud and Virtualization

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