Telecom carriers are looking for more agility, says HP’s Bethany Mayer (video)

4 Jul 2014

Bethany Mayer, HP's senior vice-president and general manager of Network Functions Virtualisation Business

Telecom carriers are looking to virtualisation to give them greater agility to compete with web companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon Web Services, says Bethany Mayer, HP’s senior vice-president and general manager of Network Functions Virtualisation Business.

Mayer was in Dublin earlier this week to address the Open Tech Ireland gathering on SDN technology, which was presented in co-operation with the Irish Software Association, Intune Networks, KEMP Technologies, and Sanctum Networks.

Mayer is also in charge of HP’s US$2.5bn a year networking division, which, under her leadership, has grown through 17 consecutive quarters and holds the No 2 market share position. In this role, she leads a global team of more than 6,000 employees that helps companies improve their performance through innovative networking technologies.

“What’s happening now as a result of software-defined networking (SDN) is you are able to do more with the network, you are able to utilise it more effectively, your applications can run more smoothly across the network and perform much better, and basically you can align your network to the business that you are in.

“What Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) is about, which is my new role within HP, is really the virtualisation of the network for the carrier market.”

Mayer explained that several telecom carriers in the US put together a specification around network functions virtualisation based on the principles of SDN.

“SDN is very important in this area, as well, but the idea was essentially to be able to virtualise several network functions that now and over the past 20 years have been basically proprietary boxes. And so the goal is to have those functions virtualised and then using SDN and other orchestration capabilities, be able to create new services and bring them up quickly.”

Agility and scalability

Mayer said carriers were responding to competition from Google, Facebook, and Amazon Web Services.

“Those companies can bring up services for their users very quickly and provide some immediate value to their customers with not the amount of work and effort it takes a carrier to do the same thing.

“And so the carriers are looking for more agility and flexibility in creating new services and bringing them up very quickly to offer something similar to customers.

“Google, Facebook and Amazon Web Services don’t have to support mobile cellphones where if the mobile service drops you’d be unhappy. So carriers have to worry about reliability, high availability and scalability in a much larger way than perhaps the Google or Facebooks of the world or Amazon have to.

“Those things have to be brought into consideration and I would say yes, the carriers got together after having a sense of SDN and what that might mean for them, and they wrote a specification for the vendor community to ask them to begin to build products in this way.”

And with the new NFV business headed by Mayer, HP has responded to the challenge.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years