Two of CableLabs' top NFV and SDN experts left the cable industry consortium last month.

Don Clarke, formerly principal architect for CableLabs' network technologies, departed March 8, while Tetsuya Nakamura, formerly CableLabs' principal systems architect, left March 22 to join Amazon Web Services as a partner solutions architect. Clarke wrote on his LinkedIn page that he is currently taking a break from the industry.

CableLabs is a cable operator-backed consortium that does R&D, and creates specifications for the cable industry. With both Clarke and Nakamura leaving the same month, CableLabs could be in the process of reevaluating its approach to NFV and SDN. If nothing else, a wealth of NFV experience left the organization with their departures.

CableLabs declined to comment on whether it was reevaluating its SDN and NFV work in an email to FierceTelcom, but did send the following statement: “Don Clarke and Tetsuya Nakamura no longer work for CableLabs. We are very grateful for their service and contributions to the industry.”

Both Nakamura and Clarke were on the ground floor when European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) started developing its NFV specifications in 2012 with the release of a white paper.

Clarke joined CableLabs about five years ago after taking part in BT's pioneering efforts on NFV. Clarke was also one of the founders of OPNFV and co-founded the ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group (NFV ISG). He chaired ETSI's Network Operator Council until November of last year.  Last year, Clarke was named to FierceTelecom's list of top 25 movers and shakers in the telecom industry

Prior to joining CableLabs in 2015, Nakamura served as vice chairman for ETSI's industry specification group (ISG) for two years. He was also an ambassador for OPNFV for two years and a member of OpenDaylight's advisory board for three years. Nakamura was also a director at NTT Data for close to a year.

Related: CableLabs takes on virtualization with new working group

During last year's SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Atlanta, Clarke spoke on a panel about CableLabs' creation of a new project called the Access Network Virtualization Group to help define the cable industry's virtualization framework and reduce fragmentation. During its inaugural call on Oct. 5 of last year, the Access Network Virtualization Group was comprised of Cox, Charter, Liberty Global, Izzi Telecom, Comcast, Videotron, Shaw Communications, Telecom Argentina and Australia's NBN.

The working group is focusing on key elements such as reliability and security, and looking at the pain points that the telcos went through when they embarked on their virtualization journeys to avoid some of the same mistakes.

Clarke said at Expo that an initial technical analysis report was due in January to help define the group's primary areas of focus for virtualization. CableLabs declined to comment this morning on the status of the Access Network Virtualization Group.

To date, CableLabs has been working on two primary projects for virtualization: SNAPS and TIP.

The group started its SDN/NFV Application Development Platform and Stack Project (SNAPS) three years ago. SNAPS, which is based on OpenStack, was designed to provide a common framework for MSOs' virtualization efforts, which include blending legacy systems with newer ones without disrupting services to customers. CableLabs has used SNAPS to deploy a virtual Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) core by employing a vCCAP from Casa Systems along with hardware from Intel and Case.

CableLabs announced its Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Community Lab two years ago. TIP, which is a global initiative that was founded by Facebook in 2016, is working on creating a more decentralized approach to building and deploying infrastructure for telecom networks. For TIP, CableLabs is working with its members on developing a non-ideal fronthaul interface using DOCSIS that would enable wireless radio networks to work with wired infrastructures.

While some cable operators are conducting virtualization trials in the field and in labs, and some have even deployed NFV, cable has lagged behind the telco industry when it comes to adopting virtualization on a wide-scale.

Cable will jump into deeper virtualization waters once it fully engages in remote PHY for distributed access architecture (DAA), MAC PHY and fabric overlays.