A New Angle on Network Function Abstraction

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A New Angle on Network Function Abstraction

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  July 22, 2015

I must admit, I’d never heard of UBIqube Solutions or even ETRI (News - Alert) before my conversation in late May with Nabil Souli, CEO and chairman of UBIqube. But it was an interesting conversation, and one I’d like to share with you, at least in part and from my perspective, here.

UBIqube Solutions is an orchestration company that has developed software to manage network devices and capabilities in an easier, smarter way, Souli explained. The company was established in France, having been the product of a pan-European research project to abstract network elements so they could be consumed more easily for operators. That was before discussions of network functions virtualization and software-defined networking first surfaced, Souli added.

The problem that company participants came together to address was to make it easier for telecommunications service providers to deliver and make money from managed services for the enterprise market by providing them and their customers with a single pane of glass to control an array of customer premises equipment from various vendors. But, as it turns out, Souli said, that was just the starting point for UBIqube Solutions and its partners.

Now UBIqube Solutions, a privately funded company this is now is based in Ireland, offers solutions based on MSActivator, its vendor-agnostic, multitenant service orchestration framework, which is designed for agile fulfillment and assurance of physical and virtual network and security services in NFV and SDN scenarios.?This solution, for which the company began its go-to-market effort a couple years ago, is in use at multiple organizations, including the Korean Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, an applied research organization that filed 1,500 patents last year alone.

Abstraction, for which Souli indicated UBIqube has been a pioneer, is key to the MSActivator solution. It’s important, he said, because whenever you make it easier to provision boxes or technologies, you lessen your dependency on specific vendors.

Here Souli draws an analogy between what happened with IBM (News - Alert) and MS DOS in 1970s and what’s happening now with network equipment leader Cisco Systems. Back in the ‘70s, Souli said, no one ever bought MS DOS; rather, Bill Gates (News - Alert) OEMed MS DOS, which Souli called unsellable. But MS DOS was important because it split the chipset, the processing, and the operating system, Souli said, and that opened the door to suppliers like Intel (News - Alert) on the south end, and to applications companies like Microsoft on the north end.

Essentially the same is true today as abstraction moves into network equipment, and in this case Cisco (News - Alert) is playing the role occupied in the 1970s by IBM.

There’s another interesting angle to today’s abstraction story and what it means for network operators like the telcos, Souli indicated. That is that virtualized customer premises equipment is getting a lot of interest now, and vCPE will enable service providers to have more control over such gear. As a result, service providers will be able to have more control of the pricing of their hosted and managed services, he added.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino