If 2014 was the year for talking about software-defined networking, 2015 is the year that network virtualization goes commercial.
Looking back at last year's inaugural Big Telecom Event (BTE), Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Jim Hodges remembers the prevailing view being that SDN still had a slow road ahead of it. And while that's still true to some extent, Hodges believes that there is more of a push happening now, particularly as people see the value of virtualization for machine-to-machine technologies and the Internet of Things.
"The Internet of Things is starting to happen. It's going to be a while, but you're going to have to have scalable networks. You're going to have to have virtualization," said Hodges.
Referring to BTE 2015 (coming up in just over a week), Hodges added, "It'll all be about NFV, or virtualization integrating and going commercial, moving from proof of concept into trials that actually go into live deployments."
In Hodges's opinion, the key to driving adoption is identifying compelling business cases.
As one example, Hodges points to the network control plane. When mobile operators moved into LTE deployments, they saw the amount of signaling traffic on their networks escalate. As that traffic continues to rise, it will be harder and harder to scale the control plane through hardware that manages the volume. On the other hand, software is highly scalable, which makes virtualizing the control plane a good way to control cost and complexity. (See Who Does What: SDN Controllers.)
Virtualization also makes it easier to do dynamic network optimization, Hodges noted. By virtualizing functions, operators will be able to collect data more effectively to help in identifying network issues before they become problematic. Better data analysis is the first step toward improving optimization techniques, and vendors are already working on solutions that will allow operators to adapt to changing conditions on the fly.
Hodges will moderate several panels on virtualization at BTE 2015, including "The Role of Big Data and Advanced Analytics in SDN/NFV," "Taking Control of the Control Plane" and "NFV at the Network's Edge." He will also co-host a breakfast session with Accenture on "Applying New Solutions to Traditional Dilemmas."
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading