A Discussion with Kenneth Dilbeck, VP Collaboration - TM Forum
Kenneth Dilbeck serves as the VP Collaboration with TM Forum, a member-based organization that brings together thought-leaders and delivers thought-changing analysis and revolutionary approaches to address industry issues, from macro market trends to pragmatic technology challenges.
A survey from Infonetics earlier this year noted that 93% of telecom providers were planning to implement Network Function Virtualization at some point. As the market evolves to this type of adoption, questions are often as to what impact this will have on the industry and the careers of those in networking.
To help shed some light on this subject, we sat down with Kenneth Dilbeck, Vice President of Collaboration, TM Forum.
What is the impact of NFV to the industry?
We’ve spent quite a bit of time with our members discussing the introduction of virtualization and NFV, examining what the impacts were going to be in the industry.
What became obvious, very early on, is that virtualization and NFV are really enabling technologies. That is not the ultimate goal. The technology itself, you can get lost in. Our members want to create a service enablement environment. We had a lot of discussions about what that meant. It became apparent that the advent of zero-touch operations, orchestration and management was really the goal.
Our members want a highly automated system, where the operations intervention required to deploy new services is minimized. The ability to assemble component services and have new service offerings that roll out very rapidly is actually the goal. Our members need to have a very flexible business model where they can compete on an equal basis with some of the new SaaS-type entrants into this field.
How Will Today’s Networking Careers Evolve in the Age of SDN and NFV?
Although the need for the specialized hardware knowledge decreases, skill sets they’ve acquired can be applied to different types of problems. The problem will move, but the nature of the problem probably won't change as much.
Networking teams are still trying to deliver a network service. However, rather than focusing on the hardware capabilities as singular things, they will be focused more on what the software capabilities require. There are still things that need to be considered, like contention points, hardware/software interactions and performance characteristics, but they shift from hardware centric to software centric.
I see a natural path for people that are working in the field that way, but it won’t be an immediate change. It will be an environment where hybrid networks last for a long time.