At a time when IT and telecom are rapidly combining to transform all areas of life, affecting people, business and society, Ericsson is expanding its position in the ICT industry to address market requirements. “The evolution of new services and experiences is being made possible by the seamless convergence of information and communication technologies, such as broadband, mobility, smartphones and the cloud,” says Ludvig Landgren, vice-president and head of network applications and cloud infrastructure, Ericsson, South East Asia, Australia and India. “Ericsson is a total integration solutions provider for networks and India is super attractive for us from the cloud perspective,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interview. Excerpts:
From the cloud point of view, how important is the Indian market for you?
It is absolutely mandatory and super attractive for us from the cloud perspective. It is a huge part of our business in India. India has reached a billion subscribers. Moving all of these customers to cloud is very attractive for us. We have already virtualised and provided cloud services to customers such as DoCoMo, Softbank and Telstra.
Are the cloud demands of Indian customers different as compared to other markets?
The requirements are almost similar for India and others. The benefit for India is the re-use possibility. This means that the deployments in cloud, software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualisation (NFV) will be slightly less costly because of the experience already generated during the other deployments. Having said that, there are some differences in India, because of the sheer mass of the population and the number of subscribers with each operator. But the technologies remain the same.
What are the main drivers for telecom operators to virtualise their core?
There are essentially three aspects. The first one is agility. Telco networks are built as super robust networks that can always make phone calls. But the architecture is silo based. So, each of the applications in the network is unit of hardware, software, and applications fully integrated. Now look at your phonebook. Hundreds of applications on your phone using the same hardware and software are doing many things. That is the journey telco networks will have to evolve to. The second aspect is around savings. It is very important for the Indian market to have cost efficiency. I would argue that SDN and NFV and cloud services are mandatory for the India market to achieve breakneck speeds to move from 2G to 3G to 4G or 5G. It becomes mandatory for capex and opex savings. The third is time to market (TTM), which is actually a part of agility.
Is it not necessary to use these two technologies together?
Not necessarily. In fact, for customers, we look at NFV as the stepping stone and then you can have SDN functionality. It is because they are sort of different. NFV is the layer-isation of the network- hardware, software, and application. SDN is the automation. You could actually launch the network without automation. But when you provide a lot of applications over the network, then you are more benefited by automation. Adding the SDN functionality and automation allow a very quick way to enable savings and services. We have software and service based products which address these. One of them, we call VN Effective. From a technical point of view, it is a list of scripts that enables the operators to quickly automate the on boarding of the applications. We sell it as a service as well as software for our customers.
What is the potential of NFV for Indian operators investing in virtualisation technologies?
It is really not only an opportunity but a mandatory step for customers in India because of the low tariff rates here. There needs to be quicker efficiency. There is another aspect which is unique to the Indian market; it is the ongoing merger situation for our customers. SDN/NFV is an opportunity to rethink which models do I have for my networks and by consolidating, it is a possibility to challenge the network which was there before.
What is your experience of working with operators on NFV in other markets?
We chose very early to virtualise our whole core portfolio. We got early wins which put us in a unique position as many of our early customers were running fully commercial services on cloud networks. This is a unique advantage that we can provide to Indian clients.
IT players are also active in the NFV area. What differentiation does Ericsson offer to this?
Ericsson is a total integration solutions provider for networks. We have a massive scale that we can utilise for this. But more important than the scale, is the experience. We were early on virtualising all networks, and gained a lot of experience with the early launches of NFV. We utilise the experience we have achieved globally in India. In fact, India is now a part of a larger region, as it is now incorporated into our South East Asia and Australia region. So, the same resources, skills, and experience that we have from these region are now blended into the new region.