The Rahi team is wrapping up International Telecoms Week at the Hyatt Regency and Swissôtel in Chicago. It’s been exciting to learn about the trends shaping the global telecom industry, and the technologies that are enabling more cost-efficient voice and data services.

The official opening of the event featured Sophia, the world’s first robot “citizen,” and Dr. David Hanson, Founder and CEO of Hanson Robotics. Sophia and Dr. Hanson discussed how artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are transforming telecommunications, and how the telecom industry is helping to drive advancements in these technologies.

Automation is critical to the future of the industry. Organizations have ever-increasing telecommunication requirements and need services that can scale on demand. Telecom service providers cannot support customers with hundreds or thousands of sites using traditional manual processes.

To address this challenge, service providers are moving away from the hardware-centric telecom model to a software-oriented approach. Central to this model is network functions virtualization (NFV), which replaces purpose-built equipment with software running as virtual machines.

In essence, NFV works the same way as server virtualization — a hypervisor separates operating systems and applications from hardware, so that one server can run multiple virtual workloads. The guest virtual machines share the physical resources of the server. With NFV, a network hypervisor encapsulates the software that delivers the virtualized network functions (VNFs), which run on commodity hardware. One NFV platform can host multiple VNFs.

NFV Management and Organization (MANO) is a framework for provisioning, managing and orchestrating VNFs, and controlling and managing the compute, storage, and network resources that support them. The reference architecture was developed by the NFV MANO working group of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute Industry Specification Group. It works with a variety of VNFs so that users have the flexibility to choose  the resources deployed on the NFV platform.

Like server virtualization, NFV decreases management complexity — network administrators gain a consistent, unified platform that eliminates the need to manage multiple device interfaces and operating systems. It also increases agility by enabling administrators to spin up network services on demand and improves resource utilization by eliminating the need to provision multiple hardware appliances. At the same time, NFV improves network availability by reducing maintenance windows and allowing faster response to issues.

NFV is closely related to software-defined networking (SDN), which also involves the decoupling of network services from hardware. When the network is controlled by software, a high degree of automation becomes possible.

Developed by a group of telecom network operators, NFV is seeing rapid uptake among service providers. According to the most recent analysis from IHS Markit, the carrier NFV market is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 30 percent through 2021. The report notes that 82 percent of service providers are extending NFV to customer sites with universal customer premises equipment (uCPE). More on that in a future post.

Rahi Systems provides customers with an integrated solution from the endpoint device to the data center and the cloud.  A key component is the provisioning of telecom services to support today’s connected enterprise. We are keeping a close eye on advancements in the telecom space to ensure that you get the right connectivity at the right time and at the right price.

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