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CSPs See ROI From Virtualization Despite Continued Frustrations

Denise Culver
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Denise Culver, Online Research Director

Virtualization is paying off for the service providers that are early adopters, according to the latest results from a Thought Leadership Council (TLC) survey. About 30% of this month's panelists say they've already virtualized their networks and are seeing demonstrable return on investment (ROI).

Equally encouraging is the fact that just under a quarter of this month's panel say they will have monetized their virtualized networks by the end of this year. Nevertheless, the bulk of these communication services providers (CSPs) continue to be stymied by the plethora of open source initiatives on the road to automation, as found in Thought Leadership Council: Open Source, Automation Not Easing Path to Virtualization.

For this report, council members were asked ten questions about virtualization, security and multi-access edge computing (MEC) in relation to automation. Many of the results from this report will be shared by Heavy Reading analysts at the upcoming NFV & Carrier SDN: Automation & Monetization event in Denver, September 24-26.

According to the report, CSPs do not yet agree on a single attitude toward automation security. In fact, TLC panelists were almost evenly split between those who feel it's critical to ensure they can interoperate automated solutions from best-of-breed vendors, those that say it's important but not critical for first-wave commercial deployments, and those who say it's not important at all because mass adoption of open source won't happen for years.

Almost half of panelists say their companies will implement MEC by 2020, according to the report.

One CSP, who said MEC is "important but not critical" to his company, commented, "We are working to establish the platform first and focusing on simple and less security-impacting services. It will become more critical as we attempt to move closer to end-user management."

TLC members also sounded off about the biggest operational challenges their companies face for managing distributed resources as a result of virtualization and resources moving to the edge. One CSP commented, "Additional manpower will be required for operation and maintenance of those physical servers to support virtualized functions at distributed locations. Currently, all critical functions reside at centralized locations."

Another summarized, "It's not clear to me that there is a business case for which network elements or functions can move to the edge."

The Thought Leadership Council is a unique Heavy Reading research initiative founded in August 2017, in which a panel of highly targeted CSPs participate in strategic research surveys on topics like service assurance, automation, 5G and IoT. TLC members receive private invitations to take part in completely anonymous surveys, which enables them to provide insights that might otherwise go undisclosed.

— Denise Culver, Director of Online Research, Heavy Reading

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