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vSphere user? You need to care about VMware's telco plans for a bit

The stuff Virtzilla is doing to build NFV for telcos will trickle down into its other products

VMware has launched the second version of its Network Function Virtualization suite as it hopes to convince telcos to go down the same software-defined route its offered other data centres. And in so doing the company is infusing its core products with telco-grade features it thinks will be widely applicable.

Like just about any organisation capable of recognising a telephone, VMware's trekked to Mobile World Congress to reveal its plans. Virtzilla's have landed in three lumps.

First is VMware vCloud NFV 2.0, a bundle of vSphere with Operations Management, NSX, VSAN, vCloud Director for Service Providers, VMware Integrated OpenStack, vRealize Network Insight, vRealize Log Insight, vRealize Operations Advanced and VMware Site Recovery Manager.

The idea here is to help a “communications service provider” - a carrier or telco to you or I – to build a platform that makes it vastly simpler to introduce new services. Telcos are tired of over-the-top operators running apps over their networks, then creaming the profits. VMware thinks it can help carriers to offer new services far more quickly by virtualizing them. To get there, all a carrier needs to do is bin proprietary kit, put some x86 inside everywhere to run services and host virtualised storage. The NFV 2.0 bubdle will therefore let carriers bundle will let carriers create virtual networks, monitor those networks, protect the services with DR tools and create a well-managed service-spawning machine.

This isn't magic: VMware's people talked up new services in “months”, fast by telco standards but perhaps not for cloud-native folk.

Of course such folk don't obsess about reliability and security in quite the same was as telcos, so VMware is building that, too. And those efforts are going to become important to mainstream VMware users.

As explained to El Reg by Gabriele Di Piazza, VMware's veep for telco NFV products and solutions, VMware has a telco-centric development team doing things like strengthening multi-tenancy because isolation is the kind of things telcos get very antsy about.

But those efforts are not being done by a discrete team inside of VMware cooking telco-specific cuts of VMware products. Instead, Di Piazza says “my team operates as an overlay team across multiple business units at VMware. We have an equivalent number of engineering resources building telco NFV extensions in our core products.”

“We are doing this because our CEO and CTO customers believe that many of the telco features we are experiencing right now for carrier deployment become relevant in very large IT environments.”

And perhaps in smaller ones, too, as the mass of VMware users with a virtualised server fleet start to use more public cloud.

VMware's second MWC effort is AirWatch-as-a-service for carriers. Virtzilla believes carriers like the idea of offering mobile-device-management-as-a-service. A new cut

The third is a tie-up with an outfit called HARMAN that has expertise in over-the-air software updates. VMware hopes that new relationship translates into an internet of things play, with HARMAN's stuff running inside VMware's NFV suite and giving telcos the ability to manage burgeoning fleets of things.

VMware's already made decent headway in NFV: the company says it has 80 deployments at “more than 45 CSPs” that collectively serve “more than 300 million” subscribers. ®

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