Part 7 or 8:the goal in transitioning is to harness everything 5G has to offer
The telecommunications industry is masterful. Nine nines of reliability across a global infrastructure optimised to the nth degree and maintained by the best in the business.
So who am I to tell them to walk away from the physical network functionality (PNF) they’ve spend decades perfecting and spend billions on brand new (almost) completely parallel virtual network functionality (VNF) to run 5G?
As an #influencer and thought leader for Ericsson, I’m granted extensive access to the minds and machines of a global telco leader. So, I know some things that aren’t common knowledge, some things that put me squarely in the yes-PNF camp.
But, as an #influencer, I also have to remain objective and broad-minded and even cynical (that part is admittedly hard when cool tech is in play). Even my cynical side agrees: VNF is the wave to catch.
In their seventh ebook (I’m reviewing all eight in their VNF ebook series, check my previous blog posts), Ericsson asks the question directly, “Can VNFs match the performance of PMFs?”.
Remembering that the goal of their series is to help other operators and customers overcome the challenges to converting to VNF, it makes good sense to ask the questions that you know are lurking out there and acknowledge the accompanying doubts.
What if Ericsson said that the doubters were right? That VNF can’t match PNF performance? (They actually do say that.)
I strongly recommend not just ebook #7 for yourself ( well I do actually recommend you read the entire series of eight ), the logic and questions they put out there are provocative. (Reading this ebook is kind of like being in a room full of telco engineers debating the subject from every angle, the language is super direct.)
The thing is, we are talking about The Future. Not the now. And in The Future, everything is VNF. EVERYTHING (yet more data substantiating this roadmap is included in ebook #7).
We know it will take two to three years to build out the virtual network and we know that a lot more strengths and weaknesses are going to be realised and improved upon during that journey, that is, yes, the PNF might perform better today, but three years from now VNF will be neck and neck and soon after that, it’s going to be winner’s circle time. Which horse would you back? (“Both” is an acceptable answer.)
Sometimes the answer Ericsson comes up with is “it depends.” As in, aspect by aspect, which is faster, PNF or VNF – it depends. Which is only fair, given the knowns, unknowns and permutations.
But Ericsson isn’t just gambling on VNF. As you read through ebook #7, the evidence mounts, from the improvements already experienced in new software architectures to the knowledge gained around optimising VNF performance.
The good portion of the ebook is spent sharing the experience Ericsson has gained so far, about making VNF perform as tightly as possible and how to migrate without making a mess of things.
I particularly love it when they use phrases like “This might seem obvious, but…..” – no I’m not going to tell you what’s obvious, the point is they’re calling us all out, themselves included, on the stuff we humans are good at and where we should really learn our lessons already. Here are the key areas of advice:
- Allocate hardware resources appropriate for the workload
- Understand the difference between telco and IT workloads
- Avoid combining functions that compete for the same resources
- Create integrated, functional service packages
- Employ a short time horizon
- Don’t try to future-proof
- Determine the importance of performance relative to efficiency
Remember, the goal in transitioning is to be able to harness everything 5G has to offer. We have to think big, and unfortunately, that also means, if you’re a telco operator, acting and spending big. Read ebook #7, and please do stay tuned for my review of ebook #8!
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a complete series of eight ebooks from Ericsson, which break the transition down step-by-step. I recommend you grab all eight of them and consume them at your own pace, in bite-sized chunks to avoid choking – this is a long-term strategic play, you’ll need your strength. Grab your copy of all eight free NFV eBooks from Ericsson here => ericsson.com/nfv
That’s it for part seven in this eight-part series, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in part eight, which will be the final in this blog series reviewing Ericsson’s NFV ebooks.