The last few years’ have seen a flurry of discussion, gossip and rumours around the development of both Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) technologies, with the pessimists in the industry constantly looking at the drawbacks, instead of the tremendous gains.
To their credit, progress has slowed since the first days’ of excitement and youthful promise. For every step forward, there have been additional challenges presented to the industry:
- How can we monetize the technology? SDN & NFV maybe a pair of game-changing technologies, but where will the revenues be driven from – we need to make sure that it’s not a case of “progress for the sake of progress”
- What is the process for integrating virtualized and non-virtualized networks? To be realistic, we’re not going to virtualize the world over night – (in fact, can we justify retrofitting ALL legacy networks?) – but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus as to how to address this challenge
- Guarantee of performance – is evidence that the technology will out-perform the hardware-based counterparts to enough of a degree to justify the initial expenditure?
- Management and Orchestration – we have the technology, but has the MANO side of things fallen off the radar slightly? There is a huge amount of energy being expended in this area, but more general impressions are that MANO has fallen behind the evolution of NFV
But it’s not all doom and gloom – we’re starting to see some genuine progress and real-world applications, which suggest we’re not that far away after all.
“We’re beginning to see the transition from the labs, and getting the impression that we’re really not that far away from deployment” commented IIR Portfolio Manager Jamie Davies “there have been many trials and PoC’s over the last couple of years’, there seems to be much more substance with the work which has taken place in the first few months’ of 2015 – Austria Telekom is the one which has caught my attention”
Telekom Austria’s Serbian subsidiary Vip mobile has demonstrated what it claimed is the world’s first fully virtualised stack in a commercial network. Following a series of vEPC, vIMS and vVoLTE trials in Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia last year, the most recent trial is the first where an entire core network production chain of a VoLTE service has been virtualized.
Although a minor network in the grand scheme of things, it certainly demonstrates the progress of the industry. Now it is simply a case of addressing the “minor” issues of implementation, integration and performance.
During September (15th – 17th), the industry will once again gather to discuss the most pressing challenges at IIR’s 4th Annual Network Virtualization Forum in Madrid. Having recently rebranded from the SDN & NFV Conference, the forum will address some of the most pressing questions for deployment, integration and (for some most importantly) monetization:
- Telco Roadmap to SDN/NFV Deployment: How and where will the technology be deployed?
- What are the business models to foster knowledge sharing and ensure competency throughout the organization?
- Service chaining: current means, opportunities and challenges for telco operators to provide value adding services
- Cost-effective response to the scale, performance, and user experience requirements
- Integrate existing OSS with the new layers of orchestration in NFV MANO
- What is the business case for SDN/NFV? How to use virtualized networks for something else than cost cutting?
With speakers already confirmed from the likes of TeliaSonera, Telefonica, BICS, ETSI NFV ISG, du, T-Systems, Verizon, Portugal Telecom, INTUG and Telecom Italia, it’s certainly one for the diary!
IIR’s 4th Annual Network Virtualization Forum, Europe
Dates: 16-17 September, 2015 (Pre-conference Workshop on 15th)
Venue: Melia Avenida, Madrid, Spain