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SDN & NFV to Shake Up Operator OSS Market, Heavy Reading Finds

SDN and NFV create new management challenges that can't be addressed with current OSS, bringing new companies with radically new approaches into the market, new report says.

September 18, 2013

3 Min Read

NEW YORK -- The emergence of SDN and NFV technology is poised to revolutionize carrier OSS and profoundly change the way service providers manage their networks, according to a major new report from Heavy Reading (www.heavyreading.com), the research division of Light Reading (www.lightreading.com).

Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) create new management challenges that can't be addressed with current operations support systems (OSSs). SDN and particularly NFV – which is emerging as the larger, "umbrella" concept – are therefore encouraging new companies, with new network management approaches, to enter the market, while causing established players to reconsider their OSS approaches, systems and entire architectures. Managing the Virtualized Network: How SDN & NFV Will Change OSS looks at the network management implications of SDN and NFV and assesses emerging vendor responses to the management challenges they pose.

The report profiles 24 key vendors with interesting and/or emerging solutions for NFV and/or SDN-based network management, which we categorize into five types: network abstraction and automation layer vendors; SDN controller vendors; "big picture" SDN and NFV management vendors; NFV management vendors; and enterprise cloud management vendors.

"SDN and NFV are disruptive from a management perspective because they require change at every level: in employee skillsets, process reengineering and automation, and new OSS capabilities," notes Caroline Chappell, Senior Analyst with Heavy Reading and author of the report. "Vendors recognize that technologies are evolving fast, particularly where the cloud is concerned, and that to create the required management architectures, they will need to bring together OSS, cloud management and network knowledge and skills, which have previously existed in separate domains."

Vendor "big picture" management architectures that aim to harmonize OSS, SDN and NFV are very new and are typically works in progress that may take years to fulfill, Chappell explains. "The market is at an extremely early stage, and NFV is likely to involve at least a ten-year migration. Over this period network management architectures will evolve, and there will be an impact on the entire OSS vendor ecosystem."

Key findings of Managing the Virtualized Network: How SDN & NFV Will Change OSS include the following:

Network equipment vendors, rather than the best-known IT OSS vendors, are leading the development of next-generation architectures attempting to harmonize OSS with SDN and NFV. Some vendors are trying to repurpose existing OSS technologies, but others are taking a more radical approach, reengineering systems using modern, lightweight development frameworks and pioneering the development of cloud application lifecycle management in an NFV context.

Three new network management approaches are emerging that will create different levels of disruption for service provider organizations. Near-real-time network abstraction and automation layers will have the lowest level of disruption; SDN management applications that are developed to coexist with an ONF-defined SDN controller are more disruptive; and NFV MANO is the most challenging, since it introduces a new set of cloud/network management requirements and requires networking organizations to think in an "end-to-end" way, rather than in terms of network/operational silos.

Vendors with very different backgrounds and perspectives are entering the race to provide a next-generation OSS capability for SDN and NFV, creating considerable confusion in the market. The number of different categories of vendor addressing this market is an indication of its current immaturity and fragmentation. Competition will heat up considerably in 2014 as several major vendors announce new products that are currently in development.

Managing the Virtualized Network: How SDN & NFV Will Change OSS costs $3,995 and is published in PDF format. The price includes an enterprise license covering all of the employees at the purchaser's company.

Heavy Reading

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