21- 23 May 2019   Hotel Palace,  Berlin

Please outline the aims of your network virtualization case study: 

The key objective of Telenor's virtualization case study is to implement a complete, secure, virtualized mobile core on a multi-vendor set up for VNFs and platform which is future ready. The business objectives are to improve cost efficiency (lower Capex and lower Opex), shorten time to market and have a 5G ready mobile core. 

Given the complexity of shifting traffic from different legacy systems on a common virtualized platform, a number of steps have been defined and execution is well on the way. However, this is a multi-year activity followed up with introducing more advanced operational tools. Early proof-points have been demonstrated on the business objectives with examples like savings of more than 40 % compared to legacy, time to implement new features in matter of days compared to months, and the readiness to support IT applications.

What are your KPI's?

On the technical side, progress is followed up by measuring ratio of mobile data traffic carried by the virtualization/cloud platform and the relative number of network functions moved from legacy systems to the same platform. After 1 year of implementation, Telenor's virtualization platform is now carrying more than 58 % of the total mobile data traffic and supporting more than 100 million user data records on the platform. The ambition is set to carry more than 90 % of the traffic by the end of 2020. In addition, there are business value indicators according to the business objectives defined for this case study.

Outline all of the challenges you face:

Given that this is a multi-vendor set up, interoperability with respect to management systems is and has been one of the main challenges. This commonly comes from less mature/detailed standards related to management. As an example, Telenor's preference for a generic VNF manager across all VNFs has proved difficult to realise at this stage of the market. 

A related challenge with respect to multi-vendor platform has been the level of automation with respect to orchestration and service assurance which is not at the level which Telenor had envisioned. 

Moving from dedicated hardware domains to software domains also challenged the traditional security architecture. This requires different solutions in order to gain the business benefits, while still having acceptable protection for cybersecurity.

What partners will you be using to help overcome these challenges?

Telenor has been and is currently working with the biggest telecom network equipment vendors to address the challenges on interoperability, automation and effective cybersecurity protection.
In addition, there are also learnings from other operators which are helping Telenor to move fast in this endeavor. Development in other industry bodies specially the ones on open source such as ETSI OSM are brought into the technical solution. Learnings on novel 5G concepts such as slicing, edge computing from EU funded projects in particular 5G-VINNI which is being coordinated by Telenor are important to make this NFV platform future ready.

What makes this case study different?

The unique selling point of this case study is a truly multi-vendor set up where VNFs from different vendors are on-boarded onto a vendor agnostic NFVI platform.  These VNFs cover all areas of a mobile core network such as user traffic, signaling, data and management. Once the NFVI platform was up and running, live traffic was migrated on it fairly quickly. It is important to highlight that experts and requirements from all Telenor's opcos have been involved in this program from the outset resulting in a generic yet scalable NFV platform.