Light Reading

2012 Belonged to SDN & NFV. But Will They Deliver in 2013?

Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
12/19/2012
50%
50%
Repost This

There's no question (at least in my mind) that software defined network (SDN) and its close cousin, network functions virtualization (NFV), were the big stories of 2012 in telecommunications technology – and not much doubt, either, that they will continue to be the big stories of 2013. But before we can predict they will also be the big success story, an awful lot of detail must be sorted out: We are far from being able to declare definitively that SDN and NFV represent the future of networking technology.

Here are ten challenges that must be resolved if SDN and NFV are to fully realize their huge promise:

  1. How will SDN be integrated with, OSS and BSS systems?
    Presently, this is a big black hole with nothing much in it, but given the legacy that exists in every major telco, it's the biggest unanswered question in the SDN story.

  2. How will the new environment be orchestrated?
    There's a general recognition that an orchestration layer of some kind is required, but will this be accomplished by operators themselves, by vendor proprietary schemes, on the back of open source schemes such as OpenStack or through a new set of standards?

  3. What's the relationship between NFV and SDN?
    Some operators believe that NFV can bring benefits without using SDN (or at least Openflow) – others believe that they are joined at the hip. In 2013, we will see the first fruits of NFV, and with it the beginnings of an answer to this question.

  4. What's the relationship between SDN, NFV and the various telco cloud programs?
    Again, some telcos are trying to ensure that the three developments are coordinated, but though there clearly is a relationship, there's no defined roadmap for how it's constructed.

  5. How far will the ONF be the prime location for SDN development?
    Other initiatives already underway include the IETF's ForCES work, but such is the significance of SDN that we can expect other major industry organizations to get involved too.

  6. Will operators really take the plunge and replace proprietary hardware with generic Ethernet switches and generic industry-standard servers?
    Some already say yes, but when push comes to shove, will the famously conservative network engineering teams agree?

  7. Equally, how will major suppliers respond?
    Despite bold statements from some telcos, few will likely bet the network on start-up vendors, and will likely be dependent on their major suppliers for some time yet. But will those suppliers respond boldly to the new requirements or drag their feet?

  8. How hybrid is hybrid, and for how long?
    The ONF is working on a standard hybrid switch solution, but it's not yet clear what it will look like and whether big established vendors (some of whom already are touting their own hybrid solutions) will play along.

  9. Where will telcos start with NFV and SDN?
    Few, if any, expect a big bang – instead they will likely replace or augment existing networks and functions piece by piece. In its white paper, the NFV group sets out a long list of functions that might lend themselves to virtualization. But where will telcos start, and will they all start in the same place?

  10. Can telcos resolve the many rivalries and tensions among their departments and divisions in a way that enables them to fully realize the benefits?
    This brings us full circle, since the OSS question is right at the heart of this dilemma. Can the gap between IT and networks be bridged in an environment where some functions and divisions may disappear altogether?


It's a long list that raises legitimate questions about the timing of the transition, and it's in the nature of these developments that this list is far from definitive; there are many others.

Making things worse, these questions must be answered in a rapidly evolving environment that may soon include some highly disruptive network service providers using all the principles of SDN to usurp the major telcos and their businesses.

Despite the uncertainties, we should not doubt that the underlying principles of SDN and developments associated are truly revolutionary, and represent perhaps the most exciting potential change in telecommunications technology since IP hit telcos big-time in the mid-1990s. If SDN really delivers, we may find ourselves reversing John Gage's famous 1984 aphorism that the network is the computer; instead, we may see the computer (aka the server, aka the data center ...) becoming the network. As one SDN revolutionary put it in conversation, "Our aim is to make the network disappear."

The stakes could hardly be higher, and we will likely see big fortunes made and big companies lost in the coming transition. Heavy Reading has been following all the key developments closely, and has already published its initial thinking in Multicore Processors Drive the Software-Defined Network: A Heavy Reading Competitive Analysis. And to kick off 2013, we plan a special webinar in early January in which the team will further elaborate its views on SDN, NFV and their potential impact. Look out for that invitation, and in the mean time, a happy New Year from all at Heavy Reading!

— Graham Finnie, Chief Analyst, Heavy Reading


(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
tmmarvel
50%
50%
tmmarvel,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/5/2013 | 2:03:27 AM
re: 2012 Belonged to SDN & NFV. But Will They Deliver in 2013?


I guess the here key point is "Will operators really take the plunge and replace proprietary hardware with generic Ethernet switches and generic industry-standard servers?"


A network service provider's major revenues come from 1) Layer 1/0 Private line - (Eth over)SDH/OTN/WDM/fiber, 2) Layer 2 MPLS(-TP) VPN/WAN and 3) Layer 3 IP transit service contracts. There are specialized technologies for providing these contract services. (Generic) Ethernet switches do not allow implementing any of these contract types, whether or not 'software defined' via industry-standard servers.


Where the push comes to shove is when having to answer the question: Does SDN enable providing the network contracts per above with same or better quality, but at substantially lower cost (and why would that fundamentally be the case)?

djthiede
50%
50%
djthiede,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/5/2013 | 2:03:23 AM
re: 2012 Belonged to SDN & NFV. But Will They Deliver in 2013?


shouldn't large enterprises be consider as early adapters?


looks like native generic switches are more suitable for such enterprises than to telcos, isn't it?


looks like telcos are very conservative and it will require some time and more evidences before they will adopt such a revolution.


 

DCITDave
50%
50%
DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/5/2013 | 2:03:22 AM
re: 2012 Belonged to SDN & NFV. But Will They Deliver in 2013?


Great way to sum up the issue. You have specialized gear for a reason -- there is big money associated with providing services in a predictable, redundant way with lots of reporting. Can you do this with generic hardware, better software integration and SDN as a controller? Yes or, at least, I bet we're pretty close.


If I were an SP, I don't know if I'd be the first in the pool. Specialized hardware has its place. My smartphone takes a good snapshot but my DSLR is the BEST camera. 


This reminds me of how much guff carrier Ethernet got vs. TDM in its early years. Eventually the specialized service cost too much to provide vs. the commodity service that could do all the same things as TDM.


How close are we to seeing that same thing with SDN in some applications?

tmmarvel
50%
50%
tmmarvel,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/5/2013 | 2:03:20 AM
re: 2012 Belonged to SDN & NFV. But Will They Deliver in 2013?


There is an important undercurrent here however: the need for reduced latencies and jitter (as well as, for certain applications, rock solid reliability and security).


The delay variations (jitter) increase unavoidably when doing packet level switching at each node, as in case of Ethernet. Moreover, when mixing different customers/users' traffic at packet level on same shared switches, there are the everything affects everything problems hurting QoS and causing security concerns. For these reasons, circuit switching T/WDM (either in form of SDH, OTN or direct WDM) has to be used instead of packet switching (eg Ethernet VLANs etc) for latency/jitter critical applications such as networking for high frequency trading and for high quality streaming media transport.


Importantly, the need for latency/jitter minimization is becoming essential for increasingly wide range of applications, eg streaming big data realtime analytics/intelligence and interactive multimedia applications. Multi-user shared packet switching is not a good network technology for these (high revenue) applications.


That is not to say that there could not be 'commodity' hardware that can be managed via vendor-neutral open standard interface from the SP's NMS servers. However that commodity hardware needs to have advanced L1/0 capabilities underneath the packet switched protocol layers to be performance-wise competitive vs vendor-specific NMS+equipment technologies.


In particular I could see a market opportunity for (SDN-managed) pure play L2 MPLS-TP LSR product integrated with L1/0 VPN capabilities. Naturally such technology can be offered also via the IaaS model, ie, contract networks as a service.

spc_vancem
50%
50%
spc_vancem,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/5/2013 | 2:03:16 AM
re: 2012 Belonged to SDN & NFV. But Will They Deliver in 2013?


Using Ethernet it is fully possible to deliver predictable latency with end-to-end jitter in the ns range. OTN and SDH is not required for this purpose.


1) Gigabit Ethernet services can be aggregated/de-aggregated into 10 Gigabit Ethernet pipes with low latency and jitter below 400 ns.


2)  Traffic can be added from gigabit client interfaces onto a 10 Gigabit Ethernet pipe, still with low predictable latency and jitter below 100 ns on the 10G.


Look to TransPacket for more details: www.transpacket.com


Hence, SDN will not inhibit services with OTN and SDH (circuit switched) type of requirement.

More Blogs from Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
The success of NFV and SDN will depend on service assurance, big data, end-to-end orchestration, and a centralized catalog.
The move to 100G in long-haul networks is driving the integration of DWDM transport and OTN switching, finds Heavy Reading.
Service providers are being challenged to enable a digital lifestyle for their corporate clients as well as residential customers.
Big data analytics is creating a multi-billion-dollar revenue opportunity for service providers.
The Evolved Packet Core (EPC) has emerged as one of the leading candidates for network functions virtualization (NFV).
Flash Poll
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Eyes Big Technology Shifts

4|16|14   |   03:02   |   (4) comments


US cable engineers are facing a lot of heavy lifting in the coming years, notes Light Reading Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick.
LRTV Custom TV
Maximizing Customer Experience & Assuring Service Delivery in an IP World

4|15|14   |   4:57   |   (0) comments


Steven Shalita, VP of Marketing, NetScout Systems, Inc., discusses the challenges cable/MSO operators face in assuring the delivery of new IP-based services. Key points include the value of proactively managing performance, and using rich analytics and operational intelligence to better understand service and usage trends, make smarter business decisions and ...
LRTV Documentaries
Bye-Bye DVD: Consumers Embrace Digital Video

4|10|14   |   04:17   |   (7) comments


Veteran video analyst Colin Dixon, founder and principal analyst of nScreenMedia, says research shows 56% are using digital video already.
LRTV Documentaries
Video: TW Cable Puts Multicast Gateways to the Test

4|8|14   |   04:13   |   (1) comment


Tom Gonder, a chief architect at Time Warner Cable, explains how its trial of multicast gateways is impacting IP-based video plans.
LRTV Custom TV
Managing & Monetizing Big Data in Operator Environments

4|7|14   |     |   (1) comment


At Mobile World Congress, Gigamon's Director of Service Provider Solutions, Andy Huckridge, and Heavy Reading Analyst Sarah Wallace discuss the 'big data' issues facing carriers and operators today.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Data Center Energy – Build Your Data Center in a Modular Way

4|7|14   |   2:13   |   (0) comments


Dr. Fang Liangzhou, VP Network Energy Product Line, shared his thoughts about the challenges for data centers during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Agile Network Solution – An Overview of Huawei's Agile Network Solution

4|7|14   |   2:31   |   (0) comments


Ajay Gupta, Director of Product Marketing, Networking Product Line, gives an overview of the Agile Network Solutions during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s eLTE Voice Trunking, Video and Data Applied for Railways

4|7|14   |   1:38   |   (0) comments


Gottfried Winter is the Sales Director at Funkwerk, a German specialist in GSM-r terminals and a long-time partner of Huawei. At CeBIT 2014, Winter talks to Light Reading about this partnership and the integration of enhanced voice trunking, video and data functions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
LeaseWeb Speaks Highly of Huawei's Datacenter Products

4|7|14   |   1:37   |   (0) comments


Rene Olde Olthof, Operations Director LeaseWeb, talks about the next data center transformation during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Documentaries
Comcast: Reshaping the Cable Network Architecture

4|3|14   |   07:11   |   (8) comments


Shamim Akhtar, Comcast's architect and senior director of network strategy, explains why the cable company is moving to a more distributed network architecture.
LRTV Custom TV
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger at Mobile World Congress

4|1|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger speaks to Heavy Reading about the value of virtualization spanning from the data center to service provider networks to mobile devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Analysts' Impressions of Huawei SoftCOM at ONS 2014

4|1|14   |   1:11   |   (0) comments


After visiting the Huawei booth at ONS, Lee Doyle of Doyle Research gives his appraisal of Huawei's SoftCOM solution.
Hot Topics
BlackBerry Invests in Healthcare IT Startup
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/15/2014
Volvo: AT&T HSPA+ Can Drive My Car
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/16/2014
T-Mobile Petitions Operators to Kill Overages
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/14/2014
Cisco & VMware Are Apple & Google of SDN
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/14/2014
Mobile Apps Susceptible to Heartbleed, Too
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/14/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed