When organizational budget cuts come, IT departments are often the first to get squeezed. This puts them in the unfortunate position of always looking for new and innovative ways to save on capital and operational expenses (capex/opex) while maintaining the integrity and security of their organization's internal and branch operations. To balance lower budgets with senior management's high expectations, forward-thinking IT department heads have begun investigating and deploying new software-defined (SD) features and services for their branch offices. And this is being enabled through the rollout of software-defined networks (SDN), software-defined WANs (SD-WAN) and network function virtualization (NFV).
Before SD features and services, IT relied on expensive proprietary hardware and software platforms that were time consuming to install, configure and train colleagues on. By the time a department had fully mastered the particular platform, new software updates would emerge that quickly made the old platform obsolete. And thus the circle of life would begin again. Thanks to SDN/SD-WAN/NFV and new SD features and services, IT departments are starting to say goodbye to this Möbius strip-like product lifecycle and hello to significant savings in product costs and usability. Last year Robert Cohen at Lens360 compiled several savings of early Fortune 500 adopters, noting that some saved millions of dollars and saw cost reductions of 95 percent!
The benefits of de-coupling software from IT hardware is not a new concept, VMware started this charge back in 1998. But it has evolved quite a bit in just the last few years with the introduction of SDN. Two years ago, Andrew Lerner of Gartner predicted that by the end of 2016, more than 10,000 enterprises worldwide will have deployed SDN in their networks, a tenfold increase from end-of-year 2014. And now Gartner's saying this is the year that it goes mainstream.
As SDN has matured, SD features and services [also known as virtualized network functions (VNF)] have arrived to ride on top of it. A few of these emerging SD features and services include software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs), software-defined next-generation firewalls (SD-NGFWs) and software-defined unified threat management (SD-UTM). These new and innovative products and services are poised to replace the legacy, proprietary hardware, software and technical staff required to configure, manage and maintain all of the disparate platforms in an enterprise branch office. In this slideshow, Versa Networks has identified the top five ways NFV is lowering branch office capex and opex.
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