During a keynote address at last week's NFV World Congress in San Jose, Calif., Comcast's Nagesh Nandiraju spoke about the need for service providers to change their cultures in order to enable their digital transformations.
There's a lengthy checklist for communications service providers as they use SDN, NFV and virtualization for their respective digital transformations, but there's more to that list than the new applications and open source technologies.
Over the years, network engineers have grown accustomed to working in their own respective silos and with a small number of vendors. But those static environments and networks are undergoing transformations with the advent of the DevOps model, SDN/NFV and open source technologies.
Networks, according to Nandiraju, have deeply rooted operational processes, but as service providers move from purpose built networks to a continuous integration and deployment model, operations need to be redefined.
"Underlying all of this is the cultural aspect of it," said Nandiraju, director of network architecture at Comcast. "So this is something as an industry that we're not used to doing. We're not used to the experience of the network on a dynamic basis. So how do I change the workforce that is using the existing processes and operational aspects? It's a cultural shift that we also have to address for the transformation."
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has transformed from a traditional cable company to a network company, and is now in the process of becoming a software company, according to Nandiraju. Most of Comcast's next-generation X1 platform utilizes OpenStack and Comcast's CDN is also open sourced.
Now that Comcast has started to embrace open source and SDN/NFV, its workforce needs new skill sets.
"More of those skill sets have to come together and work in a much more harmonious fashion," he said. "There's a learning curve there."
Among other services and applications, Comcast is developing both Layer 2 and Layer 3 VPN services using overlay networks. Comcast is looking at IPv4-as-a-service on top of IPv6 and at leveraging merchant silicon in its core network. (See SDN's Second Act: What It Means for Cable.)
Comcast is also engaged in several proof-of-concept (PoC) trials with SDN, NFV and open source options.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation