I’d like to state in the beginning that I’m in no way biased toward fellow photographers and mountain bikers…..I mean really, we all have passions, just because the guest on my show happens to share them doesn’t mean they’re automatically awesome…except maybe if they’re also an expert in network function virtualisation at Ericsson Digital like Peter Wörndle is … and has a lifelong interest in networks and electronic engineering…. alright, I’ll admit it, talking with Peter was Excellent, it really was. Our full conversation is available to listen to now, but read on for some of my favourite parts.
Network Function Virtualization
Working in Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) involves this nexus of everything from the actual execution platform, dealing with OpenStack via Kubernetes for cloud native apps or container based applications, managing the orchestration of getting the apps out into deployments, and leveraging the apps themselves. And to hear Peter talk about it, the transformational elements are everywhere these days.
An interesting outcome of going OpenSource is that Ericsson’s customers are more interested in how they’re building the applications, which leads to more conversations at the R&D level – what databases are you using, what network design is your application using internally and so forth. It’s not just about making applications talk between vendors and entities, it’s much deeper, about how the applications behave and how are they deployed.
That creates a GREAT opportunity to evangelise the role of Kubernetes, which is of course exactly where Peter takes it, extending the transformation even further.
Many of my conversations with Ericsson experts have included this element, the extent to which Ericsson digitised their own house, first, and how they reference that experience with their customers. It means that customers don’t have to jump in the deep and go all in if they’re not ready to; Ericsson has broken the process into smaller steps which makes the whole transformation much more palatable – and, of course, dramatically increases the success rate.
According to Peter, the customer journey typically begins with virtualising a few nodes in the network, running some specific services use cases and then grow from there into new technologies, container based technologies like Kubernetes as well as out into the network towards the edge. Start with virtualisation, become cloud enabled and then move into native.
Interestingly, there’s also this element of new operators like WeChat and Skype and WhatsApp who are approaching this from a very different perspective compared to the full-blown Telcos – these newer players have more of a greenfield experience ahead of them and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out (as if it ever comes to a hard stop!).
Of course, I HAD to ask Peter about #5G — what are the early adoption trends looking like, and where are people getting the early quick wins (and do those even exist)? And, of course, in Peter’s view, the biggest wins are where customers fully convert to virtual machine-based deployment or container based cloud native deployment, because it’s such a fundamental reboot of their scalability and robustness.
But he also said that edge is really really hot, because it’s such a viable way to enable new business models.
“Edge computing, edge deployment in combination with local breakout enabled by 5G user plane functions seems to be the new topic, where new value could be generated,” he says. AR and VR use cases seem to be generating the most interest at the moment, as well as some industrial applications that use the low latency of 5G for control loops and robotics. Listen to the full podcast for more of Peter’s thoughts there.
I will share this key statement of his now though: “The single killer use case has not yet been discovered.” It’s not a negative, it’s more of a what does REALLY good look like and how do we get there.
Other topics Peter and I discussed ranged from
- How far down the network do we take the virtualisation?
- How many more functions can be virtualised?
- When and even are we going to see a time when apps deliver micro services across carriers?
- When does the line between telcos begin to blur?
- What are the early adopters actually doing with their new capabilities?
And of course, the crystal ball of where will the next 12 to 18 months take us, in these mighty exciting times of 5G? Hopefully you can’t wait to find out.
Tune in and listen to the full podcast because I’ve probably said enough here.
A big thank you to Peter and the team at Ericsson Digital for the opportunity to feature him on my podcast show. As always my aim is to offer you a great listening experience, and to keep you up to date with the latest & greatest news surrounding the global #5G transformation story. I know you’ll enjoy listening to a great conversation, and learn about NFV from Ericsson.