NFV Deployments Still on the Rise – Ovum Survey

At the beginning of 2019 you may have thought the biggest problems with NFV were its lack of support for cloud-native functionality and a desperate need to achieve more automation. As a new decade dawns it seems security and interoperability with legacy systems now top the bill for communications service providers (CSPs) struggling to virtualize their networks.

This is according to a new survey report on service providers' adoption of NFV released this week by Ovum, part of Light Reading's parent organization, Informa Tech.

While the survey suggests that, currently, only 20% of service providers are nearing widespread adoption of NFV, it highlights that this will treble during the next two years, as around 60% of service providers large and small are set to reach wide-scale adoption of NFV across their network.

With over 75% of respondents expecting to be deploying NFV or developing PoCs this year, 2020 will be a prime year for vendors to prove their products' effectiveness in today's networks.  
Source: Informa Tech.
With over 75% of respondents expecting to be deploying NFV or developing PoCs this year, 2020 will be a prime year for vendors to prove their products’ effectiveness in today’s networks.
Source: Informa Tech.

While NFV is maturing, CSP attitudes to selecting vendors show there are still plenty of opportunities for change in the vendor landscape: Vendor incumbency ranked only third, below a history of successful deployments and commitment to open source projects and standards.

With the acceleration of virtual deployments during the next two years, this offers a key window of opportunity for smaller players to break into the market with high-quality offerings and innovative business models. Having a clear and open upgrade path is also a must -- this allows service providers to count the steps to integration with 5G and cloud services and applications. Thus, for those vendors looking to grow their share of the virtualization market in the next year, their last customer really is their best hope of attracting their next one.

The dawn of a new decade is a good time for introspection and to evaluate new ambitions, hopes and dreams. That does not, of course, mean a new decade and a totally new network, even with extensive 5G deployments. While it is foreseeable that some of today's VMs (virtual machines) and VNFs (virtual network functions) will last even up to 2030, the report is hopeful that the organizations running them will be operating in a very different way, with CSPs empowered to spin up and improve new services faster through the adoption of continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) practices, mixed network and IT teams, and greater levels of automation. The industry is already moving towards this, but the faster this can be achieved, the faster the industry can truly transform itself to roll out new services at scale and tap into vital fresh revenue streams in the era of 5G and IoT.

Other findings from the report are included below: To find out more about the report, check out this page on the Ovum Knowledge Center.

Ovum view

  • Twenty percent of operators are leading the way in the adoption of NFV, expecting to have made significant deployments by the end of 2019 across their networks.

  • Smaller CSPs are being left behind, with most expecting to have made wide-scale NFV deployments only by 2024 or even 2025, as opposed to larger CSPs, which expect to reach mass adoption by 2021.

  • The mobile edge and radio access network (RAN) will be the last functions virtualized, with more than 50% of service providers beginning deployments after 2021.

  • Most network operators see security and interoperability with legacy systems as their biggest challenges to NFV deployments.

  • Though the conversation around NFV is changing to focus on fully cloud-native architectures, today's virtual machines (VMs) and virtual network functions (VNFs) will co-exist in CSP networks for the foreseeable future.


  • CSPs should accelerate their deployments -- to wait is to lose out on service agility that will be crucial for building out new revenues.

  • NFV technology vendors must be able to demonstrate a range of successful deployments, as this is the most important factor in CSP decision making.

  • NFV technology vendors must offer improved network security features and provide better support for interoperability with legacy systems.

  • Traditional network vendors should focus on making their solutions as open and easy to integrate as possible, so that they are not left out by a rising dependence on system integrators (SIs).

  • NFV is a culture shift for CSPs. Technology vendors and CSP senior leadership must continue to be pro-active in driving cultural and technological change across the industry.

    — Chris W Silberberg, Research Analyst, Service Provider Technology, Ovum

  • tasco 1/7/2020 | 7:38:19 AM
    Carrier Importance According to this article stats the growth is falling already and still not getting a hike . i use this information  for personal growth of my job sector. Thankyou for sharing this information
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