I’ve just returned from the ITEXPO west conference, held in sunny Anaheim California, where Dialogic hosted an exhibitor booth, and also participated in three dynamic panel discussions. By all measures, the event was a great success! With informative keynotes and panel sessions that delved into current industry trends ranging from NFV to webRTC and hosted VoIP applications, it was abundantly clear that always-on real-time multimedia communications and collaboration have become the norm. Moreover, with a significant majority of the show floor exhibitors focused on managing, distributing, growing or connecting carrier clouds in some fashion, this expo offered further proof (if any was needed) that telecom and IT are merging very, very rapidly.
It’s been a long time since the telecom industry has seen such rapid change, and the current industry-wide pivot towards telco clouds is even more impressive when you consider that the Network Functions Virtualization architecture was essentially unknown just three years ago. With a two-day ITEXPO conference track dedicated solely to NFV topics, conference attendees were treated to a superb roster of industry experts who explored the motivations, benefits, and challenges of this new framework in considerable depth. For example, the panel session that I participated in focused on enabling agile service delivery within an IMS network by using an NFV approach. When our session moderator offered the proposition that complexity has been an impediment to the deployment of classic IMS solutions, our panel members were in violent agreement that virtualization will greatly simplify IMS network rollouts, and will also enable dynamic on-demand scalability for common elements such as the Media Resource Function and Media Resource Broker.
To be sure, a great deal of complexity will be required in order to deliver on the NFV promise of simplicity; however, as many of the panel discussions highlighted, the long term benefits of this effort will be many. By transforming into software telcos and embracing open Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) approaches to application delivery, traditional telecom network operators will enable not only agile service scalability, but also agile multimedia service innovation via real time communications ecosystems that embrace both large and small virtual network function vendors alike.
To sum up my overall impressions from the ITEXPO NFV sessions, it was apparent that much work remains to be done in order to deliver on the promise of carrier clouds. However, if the diverse spectrum of application developers and telecom equipment vendors -- both local and global, small and large – that were in attendance at ITEXPO west is any indication of the future, then the open collaborative ecosystem promised by NFV has already begun to take form, and the future prospects for service providers are looking very bright indeed.