A lack of people power is holding back the telecoms industry’s attempts to virtualise infrastructure, according to HPE’s Dave Sliter.

The exec, who is VP and General Manager of the vendor’s Communications Solutions Business, told European Communications that he “couldn’t staff SDN/NFV services fast enough”.

“They’re in such high demand,” he said at the TM Forum’s annual event in France.

Virtualisation is one of the key elements of operators’ digital transformation efforts.

Sliter claimed “a lot” of operators would not reach the targets they have set themselves with regards to virtualising their networks for the same reason as HPE.

“They’re all behind the curve [on virtualisation],” he said, putting the blame squarely at the feet of staff-related issues.

These include both hiring new staff and retraining existing employees, according to Sliter.

This war for talent will “not necessarily be a showstopper” in terms of overall digital transformation efforts, the executive noted, but it will “dampen the curve”.

He urged operators to “change and transform” by embracing the likes of agile methodologies, dev-ops and cloud-level economics.

“Some operators are in varying forms of denial, some are embracing [the need to change] fully,” he added.

One operator that falls into the latter camp is Bouygues Telecom.

As announced earlier this week, the France-based company is the first telco in the world to trial HPE’s new virtualised OSS solution.

Sliter said Bouygues ended up as the trailblazer for the product in part because the company “came to [HPE] in an aggressive way”.

“There was a definite pull here, it’s not us pushing on a rope,” Sliter said.

“They’re pulling hard as they see the need to transform.”

Bouygues saw sales and profits increase in the first three months of the year as rivals sharpen new strategies.

[Read more: Bouygues Telecom continues profitable streak in Q1]

Orange is launching its mobile banking service in July, while SFR is leaning heavily on content.

Meanwhile, Iliad’s Free continues to disrupt the market with its low-cost offering.

Sliter said HPE’s tech would enable Bouygues to launch new services “later this year” – an improvement on the “year-long cycles” previously required.

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