Transition to SDN and NFV May Be Accelerating

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

5 Ways Network Function Virtualization (NFV) Lowers CapEx and OpEx

The goal is to move telecom providers and enterprises from legacy networks and service delivery models to software-defined networks and network functions virtualization (SDN and NFV). And that is just as complex as it sounds.

Thus, a lot of money is devoted to making it a bit smoother. Today, NEC and its Netcracker subsidiary announced a product aimed at easing the transition. The Agile Virtualization Platform and Practice (AVP) is designed, according to the press release, to speed the process and enable service providers to more quickly add commercial SDN and NFV-based services. For instance, the Virtualization Development and Operations Center (VDOC) clearly aims to simplify. It is described as an:

...agile collaboration environment designed for systems architecture, network planning as well as service design and deployment teams to automate end-to-end service lifecycle management.

The desire for speed and seamlessness was also an element of Nokia’s introduction last month of the CloudBand. It is, according to eWeek, a software portfolio that combines software from Alcatel-Lucent with Nokia's Cloud Application Manager and Cloud Network Director. The goal is to enable network operators to more easily embrace NFV by providing an open platform that can accommodate products from multiple vendors. Nokia's acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent closed earlier this year.

These are two examples of an important role played by vendors: They need to make it easier for companies to take the chance on the new architecture, which is complex and no doubt threatening.

The terminology of the new approaches is settling down, but even it is still complex. Last week, IDC offered insight at its annual breakfast meeting. Various approaches to "disaggregation of networking from hardware," as Enterprise Networking Planet's Sean Michael Kerner puts it, is a hot topic. Two of its stars are SDNs and software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WANs). IDC expects the latter to be used by 70 percent of all enterprises within the next year and a half and to generate $6 billion in revenue annually by 2020. SDNs, the firm predicts, will generate $8 billion in annual revenue by 2018.

The transition may be going more smoothly than an outsider would guess. Lee Field, Verizon's associate director for Solution Architecture for Asia, wrote at The Stack that SDN is happening -- and quickly:

SDN is happening faster than it may appear on the surface. It is all due to a confluence of factors now reaching the perfect storm; Common hypervisors allow for control and data plane segregation, common hardware allows scalability, open software with standardized APIs simplify orchestration, advanced silicon supports hypervisor technologies (the ability to integrate with orchestration tools and enable lower-cost core networking), and the mainstream adoption of containers and wide-spread usage of distributed application technology .All of these are factors are contributing to accelerated SDN adoption within the enterprise.

The transition to SDN and NFV – two discrete technologies that generally travel together – is inevitable. The news is that tools are emerging to make the switch easier and that progress is, if anything, faster than anticipated.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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