The Mobile World Congress was solid this year with key initiatives that focused on driving service creation velocity for service providers. There was concentration this year on virtualization, automation, orchestration, centralized management (across network layers), cloud platforms, and the usual suspects of wireless access and new devices.
While we talk about these initiatives at MWC, we cannot avoid Cisco's (NASDAQ:CSCO) new open, extensible, and Elastic Evolved Services Platform (ESP), a virtualization and orchestration software platform.
Cisco is trying hard to address effective automation and self-provisioning solutions through its unified Evolved Service Platform (ESP). Therefore, it has launched new services on the ESP that includes a cloud-based DVR service for SP video and a virtualized version of the evolved packet core (EPC) for 4G networks, which undoubtedly remains a key barrier to SP innovation in the ongoing digital world.
Furthermore, UBS analyst Amitabh Passi recently said that Cisco’s Evolved Service Platform (ESP), is a software platform that ties the underlying It infrastructure to applications in a highly automated behavior. The initial ecosystem partners for ESP are Broadsoft, Intel, Metaswitch, and Openwave. Now Cisco is with its key strategic investment is looking for to acquire some of these initial players that will certainly boost its revenue in the coming years.
However, Cisco does differentiate itself on ESP with different purchasing models that include virtualized functions, virtualized functions along with service orchestration, virtualized function plus orchestration.
With this functionality being virtualized on x86 compute platforms, Cisco certainly carries an edge over its peers and will benefit from increased UCS sales, as well as from its additional role in services.
However, with the world moving towards network function virtualization (NFV) Cisco has enough potential to open up the market for its virtualized services and to create a new market that will substantially provide enough market growth opportunity for the company and help in gaining additional market share.
Additionally, where most of the vendors announcing virtualized functions Cisco make difference with its virtual platforms comparable to the ESP which no one has announced except Cisco. And it has observed that though the initial use cases for virtualization varies some of its service chaining such as M2M, VoLTE, vEPC, and cloud DVR has picked up the momentum of late.
What it means
It represents a fundamental shift in the way service providers' networks will be built and can result in significant operational cost savings through advanced automation capabilities and new revenue-generating opportunities from being able to personalize services. Meanwhile, Cisco Quantum Virtualized Packet Core (Quantum vPC), a software solution of the new Cisco ESP that virtualizes key capabilities of the Cisco Aggregation Services Router (ASR) 5000 Series, has passed portability testing with Berlin-based European Advanced Networking Test Center (EANTC).
This functionality test emphasized that leading mobile Internet intelligence capabilities can be extended by service providers in their networks and allow them to offer a range of new services such as machine-to-machine (M2M) and sponsored data will definitely help Cisco gaining market share for the company.
Also, the EANTC tests confirmed that the virtualized and physical evolved packet core (EPC) solution that supports the same features and functions as the Cisco Quantum vPC is completely hypervisor and hardware independent.
The tests further confirmed that the Cisco Quantum vPC uses the same management software and interface that supports integrated services, such as network address translation, firewall and deep packet inspection.
However, the adoption of ESP as well as NFV may take time. For network functions virtualization (NFV), the simplistic notion of taking several network "functions" that reside on different hardware platforms and virtualizing them to create a more elastic infrastructure, thus suggesting it is still early days for adoption.
While larger operators like Telefonica and AT&T are starting to work with a host of vendors, firm decisions and deployments at scale are still further out as many issues around deployment, service, support, and organizational ownership still need to be resolved.