Under threat from companies not traditionally viewed as competitors, telcos are racing to both offer cloud services to end-user customers and tap into the cloud to run core network functions in a bid to make their value propositions more competitive and infrastructure more dynamic. But cloud experts from Orange, Swisscom and AT&T have each voiced concerns around just how capable the sector may be at managing such a bold transformation with existing tools.
Speaking at the OpenStack Summit in Paris on Tuesday, experts from major European and US telecoms firms, all of which are experimenting with using OpenStack to stand up core network services or cloud services for end-users (or both), agreed that existing telecoms industry regulation can pose challenges when introducing NFV and cloud architectures to underpin them.
Toby Ford, AVP cloud technology, strategy and planning at AT&T, which has made some progress in recent months with its NFV experiments and in rolling out its cloud stack, said that the extent to which telcos in the US can virtualise networks is limited in some part by stringent regulations.
“The actual facilities we use have a lot of legal rules we have to apply, so we’re doing a lot of work to work around those as we go forward [with NFV],” he said.
This issue, particularly with respect to security, isn’t altogether dissimilar from what other highly regulated verticals are facing. The key question is how do you as a company demonstrate a virtual appliance is as reliable as physical hardware in terms of resilience, uptime, security, and so forth?
Markus Brunner, head of standardisation in the strategy and innovation department of Swisscom said guaranteeing quality of service, which in some contexts is legislated, is also a key challenge.
“It’s really about guarantees. We have a set of services which require guarantees – legally require certain guarantees,” he said.