He has over 21 years of experience in delivering value to clients in the enterprise space helping them transform businesses through the use of technology. VMware India Senior Director – Enterprise and Government Sales Gaurav Agarwal speaks with Anusha Ashwin to share insights on the impact of COVID-19 on the telecom sector, particularly the network security, network management policy for the new normal, the evolving cloud infrastructure, and the emerging 5G technology. Excerpts:
Do you think that the pandemic has led to the emergence of new parameters for the security of telecom networks?
Telecom networks are being used more extensively than before right now given the increased dependence on the Internet in the new remote working normally. Telecom operators are looking at how to offer clean pipe solutions to business users with the best quality service. They are looking at delivering more consistent and secure service and extending their portfolio to B2B consumers. Telcos are also working towards securing good data connectivity for their customers and addressing the challenges around customers accessing corporate networks through the internet and eliminating the chances of a phishing attack or a data loss, for the consumer.
The pandemic has forced CSOs, CTOs, and CIOs of telcos to take a fresh look at their IT policies. What according to you is a complete network management policy that suits the new normal?
Most organizations were structured to work from offices. The capability to run operations outside of the office for months on end has been put to the test this year. IT leaders have had to look at aspects of TRAI regulations, duty regulations, data privacy, etc to allow people to work from anywhere. Like the BFSI sector, the telecom sector operates within a tight regulations framework. When you’re managing networks and data centers, you have to be able to also do that remotely. Most telcos are also revisiting and rethinking their strategies around using the public cloud, as a part of the core infrastructure.
What are some of the pain points that Indian CSPs experience in their network management and what role do VMware products play in helping them manage the networks?
The increase in data consumption is adding significant pressure on telecom networks. As a result, communication service providers (CSPs) are facing challenges of reduces operational agility, increased costs, and lower network resiliency. They are also unable to deliver exceptional service experiences to their customers. VMware offers a unique 5G Telco Cloud Platform, which is a consistent cloud-first solution powered by a field-proven, carrier-grade, and high-performance cloud-native infrastructure with intelligent automation.
To meet the increasing demand for innovative 5G services, CSPs require a network powered by a modernized cloud that delivers web-scale speed and agility while maintaining carrier-grade performance, resiliency, and quality. Our innovative multi-cloud platform simplifies and accelerates the rollout of 5G networks, transforms operational models through multi-layer automation while seamlessly integrating with networks. We recently collaborated with Samsung to help CSPs meet the requirements of the 5G network and accelerate the roll-out of 5G.
It’s all about cloud these days. What is VMware Telco Cloud Automation? How does this serve CSPs?
VMware Telco Cloud Automation is a new orchestrator that accelerates time to market for network functions and services while igniting operational agility through simplified automation – across any network and any cloud. It delivers the fastest time to revenue, the lowest cost of ownership, and the lowest deployed risk of any Telco Cloud solution on the market.
CSPs have to address concerns around growing complexity, and interoperability – especially as they bridge physical and virtual ecosystems. CSPs can bypass much of the complexity by adopting a single architecture, like VMware Telco Cloud Automation, that supports all networks.
Globally, telcos are exploring 5G and have developed and deployed the spectrum. How is Telco Cloud Automation designed for 5G?
We continue to accelerate the delivery of a comprehensive telco and edge cloud portfolio that addresses our customers’ challenges of today and enables them to harness the opportunities of tomorrow.
The platform combines our Telco Cloud Infrastructure – an evolution of the vCloud NFV solution and Telco Cloud Automation – the recently launched multi-domain orchestration and automation capability. The 5G ready Telco Cloud Platform is tailored for CSPs to easily embrace cloud-native technology and deliver applications and services across the multi-cloud infrastructure.
With the support of cloud-native technologies that the platform has, CSPs can now boost their innovation speed to deliver new applications and services, reduce operational complexities, and realize substantial total cost of ownership savings, further accelerating the rollout of their 5G networks.
Cloud is certain to fire up capacity or add new sites for telcos. How and what does VMware do to help telcos in this?
Many telecom operators have been deploying virtualized infrastructure with NFV. They are now looking to add a cloud-native component by deploying container-based network functions to tackle the complexity that comes with the explosion of different cloud requirements with 5G, and the growing importance of edge services.
We help communications service providers build, run, manage, and protect their telco cloud to transform their networks, accelerate the delivery of modern services, and thrive in a multi-cloud world. The VMware telco cloud puts in place the consistent infrastructure for operating all generations of cellular and fixed-line technology while leading the way to 5G adoption with solutions for orchestration, automation, optimization, and intrinsic security.
At the dawn of 5G, the VMware telco cloud combines consistent infrastructure and operations with intrinsic security and cloud-native technology to give CSPs a strong foundation for digital transformation and rapid innovation.
Can you elaborate on the company’s presence and service for Indian telecom operators?
Our solutions power telco’s network architecture, data centers, and IT infrastructure. We have been partners with the Indian telecom operators through their virtualization journey and have helped a lot of them build and run their private cloud capabilities. All the three large telecom players in the country, utilize VMware’s virtualization platform, and we run our virtualization engine in all three – Reliance, Vodafone, and Airtel. We are a part of their core infrastructure and are supporting their strategies to move to 5G and O-RAN, etc.
VMware has collaborated with several other leading software enterprises in India. How do you see these collaborations bring about a difference to the communications sector of India?
We recently collaborated with Samsung to help CSPs meet the requirements of 5G networks and accelerate the roll-out of 5G. We are working with Samsung to deliver joint carrier-grade solutions that leverage the VMware Telco Cloud portfolio to help CSPs seize this 5G opportunity and transform themselves into leading technology innovators.
We have been working collaboratively at Samsung’s lab to optimize and accelerate the readiness of Samsung’s various VNFs and CNFs, such as vRAN, 5G Core, MEC, Management, and Analytics, with the VMware Telco Cloud Platform. Such collaborations will accelerate the innovation cycle through better network design end-to-end, and support the agility required for 5G networks.
What about the SD-WAN offering?
The SD-WAN offering enables bandwidth expansion, provides direct optimal access to cloud-based applications, and enables virtual services integration in the cloud and on-premise while dramatically improving operational automation. We offer enterprise-grade performance, security, visibility, and control over both the public internet and private networks. VMware dramatically simplifies the WAN with zero-touch deployment, one-click business policy and services insertion, and cloud-based network as a service. The result is a better-performing WAN with increased reliability and lower cost of ownership.
Our solution enables enterprises to support application growth, network agility and simplifies branch implementations while delivering optimized access to cloud services, private data centers, and enterprise applications simultaneously over both ordinary broadband Internet and private links.
What are the company’s broad term plans for the Indian market, in terms of R&D, facility expansion, and employment?
We have a substantial presence in India and made a multi-year investment in the region as we look at investing in expanding our footprint, R&D capabilities, and offices here. We have around 6,000 people in the R&D department and other functions here. We expect that number to grow, given our growth in the past several years. The telco and edge cloud business have a significant presence in Bangalore and we are increasing that footprint. We have the biggest teams in R&D and support in India and the numbers keep growing. India plays an integral role in terms of innovation and continues to be a very important market for attracting investments.
We along with other companies are looking to have the workforce slowly return to work, and are contemplating innovative ways through which we can ensure the safety and well-being of employees. Ideas around developing mobile apps to reduce physical touchpoints in the office, continuing virtual meetings and even maybe detecting physical distancing are just some of the concepts that might become a pivotal step towards getting back to the new normal.
In disrupted scenarios, several things get highlighted – time-to-market due to rapidly changing needs, cost consciousness, and quality at scale. Thanks to our digital solutions and tools, our employees have developed a greater comfort around remote working and are now advising customers in doing the same.
What is your opinion about OpenRAN and how can telcos capitalize on deploying O-RAN solutions in their networks? How does VMware support telcos with O-RAN solutions?
India is at an early stage of 5G, digitization, and transmission landscapes. We are yet to charter the ORAN journey in India. As 5G matures and we get into more deployment-ready architectures over the next 12 to 24 months, we will see substantial maturity developing in the OpenRAN interfaces and the open RAN architectures for carriers. While OpenRAN is in the early phases, it will allow operators the time to build deployable architectures to consume or deploy at scale.
A pretty critical part of our focus is to become a provider for this transformation in terms of moving from a siloed and rigid legacy environment to a software-driven architecture and a virtualized and containerized infrastructure for developing and building applications. Our recent partnership with Intel is focused on building a flexible architecture that supports these open radio interfaces. The transformation, in particular with OpenRAN, is going to be the next big wave of virtualization for the telecom sector in India.
Senior Director – Enterprise and Government Sales, VMware India