Opportunities for SDN & NFV in the next 5 years


A lot has been mentioned about Software Defined Networking (SDN) Network Function Virtualization (NFV) over the last 5-10 years’ and whilst there is still a huge amount of enthusiasm surrounding the technology, we’re starting to get to a breaking point.

There is still a substantial amount about the technology which we do not fully understand, but if it is to become a reality, we’re going to need to see more examples of the technology being deployed on major and priority networks.

This is where we will begin to see the entry of the commercial engineers – the pessimists…

The enthusiasm may still be present however the business case needs to be backed up in a more substantial manner. The pessimist demands practical case studies, realistic business models and above all else, statistics. Essentially, the pessimists now need to know how the technology can produce tangible results within real-life situations.

Essentially, where will we see the money?

1. Multi-Tenant Networks

The ability to create segregated topologically is a huge bonus here. Benefits focus around better utilization of data-centre resources (some have claimed that between 20-30% can be more effectively distributed) which would certainly build the case for number focused pessimists!

Combined with sensationally reduced turnaround times in creating segregated network (claims have ranged from minutes to hours, down from weeks), the business case is looking far more promising within the data-centre!!

2. Dynamic Service Insertion (or Service Chaining)

The idea of software-based service chaining is a relatively new concept. In the physical networking world, that service chain is manually configured, within a software-based world the service chain is configured and administered all in software that can adapt as the services need to adapt.

Once again, provisioning times can be reduced from weeks to minutes, improved agility and self-service allows for new revenue and service opportunities with substantially lower costs to service. This is where we can start to move away from the idea of SDN & NFV just being technology to save money, and demonstrate where we can introduce new revenue channels

3. Bandwidth on Demand

The general consensus throughout the industry is that bandwidth demand peaks that are 10 to 20 times greater than the average, with the peak traffic lasting anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of weeks’. Strategic planning and provisioning become immensely difficult when you consider the volatility of the market itself.

SDN enables programmatic controls on carrier links to request extra bandwidth when needed, so they pay only for what they consume. These connections can come from a variety of locations (e.g. from the subscriber to a service gateway or from the subscriber to a third-party interconnect point), however the point is that the flexibility creates a much more interesting case for both the Operator and Consumer.

Although still very much a work in progress, the end result would reduce operational expense and allow a self-service by customers.

4. Virtual Edge – Residential and Business

Both technologies provide not only the “normal” service edge features but also a platform on which value-added features can be hosted. When a customer wants a feature, you simply load it into the edge device and run with it.

You don’t need SDN to run NFV. You don’t need NFV to run SDN. Some companies will never need both; some will. The fact remains that the two technologies will eventually be complimentary, and even the limited examples above will be more than enough to turn the tides of the pessimists.

Thoughts on dealing with the pessimists?

If you can provide insight and a business case for the implementation of SDN and NFV in a real-world environment, I’d be very interested in hearing from you.

During September (16-17), IIR’s 4th Annual Network Virtualization Forum, will be taking place in Madrid. With speakers already confirmed from the likes of Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, ETSI NFV ISG, MEF, du, Portugal Telecom, Telefonica, INTUG, BICS, TeliaSonera and T-Systems, the conference will address the more practical side of SDN & NFV; what is the roadmap to deployment and how can we monetize the networks?

If you have an interest in attending or speaking at the meeting, drop me through a quick email.

Jamie Davies: Jamie.davies@iir-telecom.com

IIR background

4th Annual Network Virtualization Forum, Europe
Dates: 16-17 September 2015 (with a LSO pre-conference workshop hosted by MEF on the 15th)
Location: Melia Avenida, Madrid

Pre-order the conference brochure right here


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