Every morning, I walk by the Arc de Triomf on my way to the exhibition halls. This massive architectural wonder was built for the 1888 Barcelona Universal Exposition. This event was what we now refer to as a World’s Fair. These World’s Fairs were designed to be an exhibition of the advancements in technology and culture from nations around the world.

Arc de Triomf in the morning

Important inventions such as the light bulb (1889), the radio (1893), and ice cream cones (1905) have been introduced to the world’s amazed population at these events. In a similar, fashion, Mobile World Congress is doing the same thing for the service provider industry, and in a broader scope, mobile technologies. Organizations, vendors, innovators, application developers and individual inventors all come to this event every year to show off their latest gadget or technologies.

Belle of the Ball

So far, the most talked about innovation this year has been network functions virtualization (NFV). While it was actually introduced a bit over a year ago in October, 2012, NFV did not really gain the momentum that is has until later in 2013. Now, every single company that is targeting the mobile service provider as a customer is looking for a way to tie their product or solution to fit into this NFV movement.

Being innovative does not translate to being successful. Innovative ideas do not gain a foothold and become commonplace until practical benefits are derived from the new technology. The benefit could be as important as the ability to flip a switch to light up a room in the middle of the night or as creative as being able to hold and eat cold, dripping ice cream as you go for a stroll in the park. Innovation starts with the identification and application of a vision and creating a practical solution from it.

Avoiding the Hangover after the Party

For NFV to be successful, vendors and service providers need to realize that NFV is not a panacea for all of the concerns that service providers have as they continue to implement and evolve their 4G LTE networks. While the NFV architecture may help enable the service providers to optimize the infrastructure by leveraging the benefits found in cloud and SDN technologies, there are increasing and evolving security threats and they still need to find ways to monetize their networks. It is important to properly assess whether NFV can be applied to each problem’s case study and how the architecture can help create a viable solution.