November 21, 2013

Gleave Presents Metaswitch's Vision for the Software Telco

The revenue/cost model is broken for the traditional communications services operator - something needs to change.

That change can initially be about making carriers more lean and mean. But, in the end, it needs to be about business and network transformation that enables these companies to monetize their assets. Helping service providers evolve into new animals known as software telcos can allow for all that, said Steve Gleave, senior vice president of marketing at Metaswitch, a sponsor and speaker at this week’s Software Telco Congress in Santa Clara, Calif.

Clearly, software is where it’s at. As Marc Andreessen once famously said: Software is eating the world. Just look around at some of the leading companies like Amazon, Google, Netflix, Pixar – all of them are software companies, Gleave said.

The cloud provides cost/performance benefits that are undeniable, said Gleave. Amazon Web Services has greatly decreased the price of networking (by 24x in six years, 28x in 7 years) by building its own servers (saving it an estimated 30 percent) and offering computing on demand, said Gleave. Not only can users go and reserve compute instances based on what they think they need, he said, but now Amazon lets you sell back what you haven’t used.

Traditional service providers like the telcos can benefit from the cost savings and flexibility that the cloud and related developments like software-defined networking and network functions virtualization can offer as well. Becoming a software telco, according to Gleave, entails transformation of your architecture and how you do business; embracing a programmable network that includes a rich set of APIs across layers; a new posture of agility, meaning the ability to churn out new releases every couple of months and an understanding that this transformation is a business necessity.

The top carriers are already aware of this reality, as indicated by their move to come together to write a white paper and form a network functions virtualization group within ETSI, said Gleave, who added that 25 operators are now in that group.

Metaswitch believes that the vision of the software telco can become reality, but he said you have to have the know-how to make it all work. For example, he said, you need to know how to write code natively, and you need to be able to tune software for virtualized environments and hypervisor differences. Metaswitch, he indicated, has been keenly focused on figuring out how best to help telcos do all that. He noted that Metaswitch started out with virtualizing an SBC and then decided to build a whole IMS core, an open source solution known as Clearwater.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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