The number of telcos saying they are extremely confident about meeting targets for the rollout of "high-priority" virtualized functions has fallen over the last year, according to Heavy Reading 's latest Future of Virtualization index survey results.
The results of the index, which canvasses opinion in the telco sector once every six months as part of the Virtuapedia research project, could reflect some despondency about the deployment of virtualization technology, as companies wrestle with interoperability and standardization challenges. (See Virtuapedia Community Hits 10,000.)
Just 5% of respondents said they were "extremely confident" their company would meet its timetable for the testing and deployment of virtualized functions in "high-priority areas" -- down from 22% a year earlier.
In November last year, about 42% of survey participants expected that by now they would have identified all of the functions they intend to virtualize by 2020. Yet only 10.7% of respondents have actually done so, the latest research shows.
"By any standards, that is a very big miss," said Patrick Donegan, chief analyst with Heavy Reading, during a presentation at Light Reading's Executive Summit in Rome this week.
It is not all doom and gloom, however. When it comes to progress on virtualization planning, there has been a notable uptick since the last survey six months ago.
At that time, just 55% of respondents said they had completed most of their planning for high-priority areas -- the same as in November 2015. But the figure had risen sharply to 70% in the recent survey.
"When you contrast the results in terms of identifying functions with the strong planning figures, I don't know that I would call any of it disappointment," said Donegan. "It seems more like focus."
More than 70% of telcos also expect that capital expenditure on virtualization will increase next year, compared with 2016, although nearly 40% reckon spending will increase by less than 10%.
While a small number of operators are pioneering the rollout of software and virtualization technologies, many are waiting for technologies to mature -- and for evidence of the actual benefits -- before making any commitments.
"We must fix the problems with virtualization, making it easier to deploy and guaranteeing that products from different vendors will work together," said Steve Saunders, the founder and CEO of Light Reading, during a morning presentation at the Rome Executive Summit.
The New IP Agency , a not-for-profit group established by Light Reading, was launched earlier this year to address the interoperability challenges surrounding virtualization technology, and has already secured the backing of some of the world's biggest operators and equipment vendors. (See NIA Tests Reveal OpenStack Version Challenges.)
Having already carried out a number of interoperability tests -- working in partnership with the European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) -- the NIA this week announced plans to begin certifying virtualization labs as well as technologies.
The move is aimed at speeding up the development of technologies and their subsequent rollout in live production networks.
Just 11% of survey respondents now claim to have 20% of their high-priority virtualized functions in live networks, but 45% expect to reach that milestone by the end of 2017.
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading
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