Fake Virtualization

Pravin Mirchandani, CMO, OneAccess (an EKINOPS brand), dissects a poignant phrase coined at this week’s SDN NFV World Congress.

On day one of this year’s SDN NFV World Congress in The Hague, I was intrigued by a phrase used in the keynote: ‘fake virtualization’.

The speaker, Jehanne Savi, Executive Leader, All-IP & On-Demand Networks programs at Orange, used it to describe to describe the status of the industry. It was a powerful accusation but, aside from being tuned in to the zeitgeist of our times, what did she really mean?

Did she mean vendors were trumpeting false claims about their solutions? Or was she suggesting that they were failing to disaggregate network functions properly? Perhaps she was pointing to a failure in software abstraction, or a lack of software-defined control or, even worse, a recourse to proprietary APIs or protocols. The longer I thought about it, the more interpretations sprang to mind.

Her true meaning became clear towards the end of her keynote, when she used the words ‘vertical solutions’ as a direct translation for her neologism. Only then did the links between her various arguments appear. This wasn’t a single instance of fake news or testimony, but rather a broader lamentation on the lock-in nature of mainstream virtualization solutions; on the industry’s failure to enable an open, multi-vendor landscape that would give operators the choice and flexibility they sought to build new competitive solutions.

I’d heard this reproach before from several of the operators. Some haranguing the vendors directly, others couching their frustrations in the normal critiques of our industry, i.e. ‘lack of genuine openness’, the prevalence of ‘vertically integrated’ solutions from the major vendors, etc. None, so far, had delivered it in quite such evocative language or with the same resonance, as Ms. Savi.

What she really meant was that fake virtualization is constituted in an industry-wide combination of these ills - not all from every mainstream vendor. Instead, each vendor displays their own subtle blend which, collectively, are undermining the goals and objectives of virtualization.

Bravo. Down with fake virtualization!

From day one, the OneAccess brand has championed genuinely open, multi-vendor solutions, and has built its operator migration strategy and virtualization portfolio around this ethos, with multiple partners working together to ensure the best combination of functions to achieve the operators’ goals. Or, in other words, an operator-centric world where parallels with post-truth politics can no longer be used to describe our industry’s dynamics with such withering accuracy.