SDN & NFV: Advancing the Network to 2020

SDN and NFV are shaping up to drive major transformations in how telecom operators build and manage their networks by 2020.

Roz Roseboro, Consulting Analyst, Light Reading

February 19, 2016

2 Min Read
SDN & NFV: Advancing the Network to 2020

SDN and NFV are two of the most significant technologies affecting telecom operators around the world. They are both being deployed in order to create efficiencies that will reduce costs, as well as create new services to drive revenue growth. By 2020, we expect that both will have driven major transformations in how telecom operators build and manage their networks.

SDN is seen as a critical tool in making networks more responsive to the needs of applications. Using an SDN controller, operators will be able to define and execute policies that will enable more efficient and effective use of networking resources. It has already begun being deployed in data centers, and a similar approach, SD-WAN is being proposed to bring similar levels of abstraction and automation to the wide-area network.

NFV entails virtualizing network functions so they can be run on lower-cost hardware platforms and services can be created in a more automated manner. Virtualized network functions (VNFs) will run as virtual machines on COTS platforms and be managed by orchestration tools that will execute service creation. Many VNFs will ultimately be delivered from the cloud, which allows for the pooling and sharing of resources to maximize utilization. Microservices and containers will help operators create new types of services by mixing and matching components in new ways.

Bringing technologies and platforms that were initially designed for use in IT environments has led to some concern around SDN and NFV. Operators want to ensure that they are able to achieve similar performance in the virtual world as they were able to in the physical world of dedicated platforms. Some, however, are willing to accept slight performance hits due to the significant benefits that automation provides, including faster cycle times and fewer errors. Both will enhance the customer experience.

Security is also a major concern, with high-profile hacking cases highlighting the risks inherent in the virtual world. Deploying these new technologies without disrupting existing operations will be a significant challenge, as well. Operators will therefore introduce them for specific services at the point of refresh, rather than rip and replace.

The next few years will see major change across many aspects of telecom operators' businesses. They are looking for ways to operate with greater agility and cost effectiveness, as well as bring innovative products to markets more quickly. Embracing SDN and NFV will be an important part of operators reaching these goals.

This blog is sponsored by Huawei.

— Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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About the Author(s)

Roz Roseboro

Consulting Analyst, Light Reading

Roz Roseboro has more than 20 years' experience in market research, marketing and product management. Her research focuses on how innovation and change are impacting the compute, network and storage infrastructure domains within the data centers of telecom operators. She monitors trends such as how open source is impacting the development process for telecom, and how telco data centers are transforming to support SDN, NFV and cloud. Roz joined Heavy Reading following eight years at OSS Observer and Analysys Mason, where she most recently managed its Middle East and Africa regional program, and prior to that, its Infrastructure Solutions and Communications Service Provider programs. She spent five years at RHK, where she ran the Switching and Routing and Business Communication Services programs. Prior to becoming an analyst, she worked at Motorola on IT product development and radio and mobile phone product management.

Roz holds a BA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an MBA in marketing, management, and international business from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. She is based in Chicago. 

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