Service providers continue to wrestle with the challenge of virtualizing their networks, a move they hope will reduce costs and give them a service "agility" akin to that of the Internet players.
Despite evident frustration with long-running issues such as the interoperability of vendor equipment, some operators have made good progress on implementing or developing NFV deployment strategies in 2017. Light Reading's shortlist for this award features two very strong entries from WiFi specialist Boingo Wireless Inc. and cable giant Comcast Business .
The winner will be announced on Monday, May 14, at Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas. On the following day Light Reading's Big Communications Event opens its doors for two days of learning, networking and fun.
Readers can find out more about the companies that were shortlisted across all award categories here.
But let's find out more about our shortlisted candidates for this NFV award.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, Boingo has taken advantage of NFV technology to give it more control, scalability and visibility over the traffic on its networks. The company, which is investing in small cell infrastructure and already provides WiFi services to millions of customers internationally, reckons NFV has helped it with upgrades to servers, switches and routers and in providing different levels of service to its customers.
Boingo has been using a mix of in-house, open source and vendor technologies in its NFV deployment. It has already virtualized about 90% of its data center infrastructure and been able to reduce overall capital and operating expenditure as a result of its NFV investments. Boingo reckons the strategy has also helped it to retain customers and build out networks more quickly. Last year, it enjoyed its most successful year ever, recording a 28% increase in sales, to $204 million.
Cable giant Comcast has been gaining ground on its telco rivals as a connectivity provider in the enterprise segment of the market. Evidence of that could be seen last September, when the company announced ActiveCore, which it touts as the first cable-delivered and "gig-ready" SDN platform in the US.
As noted in this story from Light Reading, the ActiveCore platform includes embedded orchestration capabilities and is intended to support numerous virtualized network functions (VNFs). Comcast believes ActiveCore will deliver better application performance, speed up deployment and allow enterprise customers to take advantage of bandwidth increases quickly and at low cost. It is still early days for the strategy, but an ActiveCore-based SD-WAN service is already available and being used by a number of customers, and Comcast plans to add new VNFs on the ActiveCorp platform in the near future.
— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading