Even as we talk of smart cities and how Internet of Things will make it all happen; there’s a saturation that is slowly creeping up in the traditional telecommunication market, with the service providers under tremendous pressure to have network and operational infrastructure that will help them offer relevant services in this constantly evolving digital market.
Explaining the scenario, Martina Kurth, research director for Gartner says, “A network architecture that was designed for millions of humans making voice calls is simply not suitable to reliably allow billions of devices (or “things”) to communicate in near real time. Existing network and operational infrastructures, cannot provide the flexibility required to enable and run new digital services, such as those related to the Internet of things (IoT) or machine to machine communications (M2M).”
This scenario is expected to drive the communication service providers to invest in more agile, cloud-centric, software-driven infrastructures. An infrastructure that is scalable and flexible and able to handle devices and Voice alike. This is the only way can they remain relevant and maintain profits.
Defining NFV and SDN
Software Defined Networking or SDN is a new architectural standard that separates the control and data planes to increase operational efficiency. This means applications are not tied to specific hardware or infrastructure. The applications can instead use more or less network resources as required, and share resources with other applications. Network Function Virtualisation or NFV as the name suggests virtualises network functions and creates building block that can be connected to create communication services. Kurth adds, “CSPs can expect significant savings as they move away from expensive, dedicated, proprietary hardware toward the cheaper, general-purpose hardware that is typical of SDN implementations. This shift will also dramatically reduce the time it takes to “switch on” new services, and will allow more flexibility in scaling resources in line with business demand.”
In fact both these network building blocks are expected to revolutionise the communication service infrastructure in the next 5 to 10 years. Gartner sees CSPs will fundamentally change the way they run their network operations and IT. This is because SDN and NFV represent a significant shift away from traditional physical networks. These will take them to towards software-driven operations that run on commodity data center hardware – offering cost advantage and flexibility. “In summary, SDN and NFV will change the DNA of operators and the way they create, manage and deliver services to their customers,” explains Kurth.
Impact of adoption
Well, the CEO, CIOs of the CSPs are already assessing how these will impact their businesses, and the potential return on investment. Meanwhile many networking solution providers are getting ready with their solutions for SDN and NFV. Nav Chander, research manager within IDC’s Worldwide Telecom Division, says, “Enterprises are just now realizing the promise of SDN and are shifting toward a managed environment especially as functions become virtualized.” Market projections from analyst firm IDC indicate the SDN market will represent a market worth of nearly $12.5 billion in revenue in 2020.
According to Gartner’s Kurth, this will also require transformation of internal organizational structures, networks and IT processes as well as new skillsets. “In practical terms, network functions are now enabled simply by switching on a piece of code that can run on any one of the commodity servers in a giant data center. This means a CUSP can switch services on and off automatically according to real-time demand far faster than is possible with legacy infrastructure,” she explains.
SDN and NFV can drive robust revenue from new digital services and service enhancements like on-demand virtual VPN services for enterprises as well as enabling CSPs to access entirely new services and markets. This potential will be achieved through the greatly increased levels of operational efficiency, agility and service innovation that the new technologies bring.
SDN & NFV solutions are here
The solutions are getting ready. For instance Verizon has tied up with SDN solution provider Viptela to offer Viptela’s SDN WAN platform over Verizon’s cloud solutions. Talking about the tie up, Shawn Hakl, vice president of Enterprise Networking and Innovation, Verizon says, “Software defined networking is the wave of the future. Viptela’s innovative technology coupled with our global networking and data center assets give clients an advantage in today’s digital economy where speed and agility matter most. Indicators from our testing efforts confirmed this solution is poised to take off in the enterprise space.”
Meanwhile NEC Corporation and Juniper Networks have entered into a global alliance to deliver Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)-based solutions. This will allow service providers and enterprises to gain greater service agility to transform their business operations and help them lower overall costs. “We see enormous potential in our expanded, long-standing relationship with NEC. By harnessing the power of automation and orchestration through SDN and NFV, and by supporting customers as they navigate their OSS transformation journey, Juniper and NEC are well-positioned to help customers capitalize on their IT and network investments,” Vince Molinaro, executive vice president and chief customer officer at Juniper Networks says about the relationship.
Early-mover CSPs should consider investments in SDN and NFV as the only way to take a technology market leadership position in the heavily saturated telecommunications marketplace.
Virtualized and software-driven infrastructures will allow the incubation of a wide range of composite services. Now SDN and NFV can provide the underlying cloud-centric operational infrastructure necessary to drive new revenue streams. This way CSPs can exploit new market opportunities, such as IoT and M2M. In the new connected world, service delivery has to become more agile to allow flexible configuration changes in order to respond to immediate business needs in real time.
So for instance, the new Verizon service, powered by Viptela, allows enterprises to “mix and match” private and public IP connections such as MPLS, wireless LTE, broadband and Ethernet to meet an organization’s unique application requirements based on geographic location, bandwidth and application service availability needs. “Viptela SD-WAN creates a unified and secure WAN that allows Verizon to deliver a new range of business application capabilities with exceptional levels of security, performance and availability. The new Viptela-powered service enables Verizon to expand its WAN footprint by harnessing the power of software defined networking, and capitalize on new business opportunities made possible by the cloud and virtualized infrastructures,” said Amir Khan, CEO of Viptela. The new managed service is being offered in the U.S., Europe and the Asia Pacific region.
When it comes to the latest in NFV solution, NEC will leverage Juniper Networks’ NFV-ready hardware and software within their enterprise virtualized Customer Premises Equipment (vCPE) solution to enable the flexibility of a virtualized service environment. “As part of its commitment to delivering an open, best-in-breed NFV-based solution, NEC has led an SDN/NFV ecosystem program with more than 40 partners worldwide. NEC is thrilled to be working closely with Juniper through this expanded alliance, which will further reinforce the ecosystem and allow NEC and Juniper to jointly offer NFV-based solutions that enable the introduction of innovative new services at higher speed and lower cost,” says Atsuo Kawamura, senior vice president at NEC Corporation.
The joint solutions combine the NEC Cloud System (OSS building model), which is an OpenStack-based cloud infrastructure, with NetCracker’s OSS/BSS systems, end-to-end service orchestration, systems integration capabilities and consulting options along with Juniper Networks’ networking equipment and virtual network functions (VNFs), such as the Juniper Networks vMX routing platform and vSRX Virtual Firewall.
Priyanka is the Consulting Editor with HPC Asia. A prolific writer with around 18 years of journalistic experience in various fields of Information Technology. Started her career with Dataquest, one of the leading technology business magazines in India, and has covered every aspect of information technology industry. At HPC Asia Priyanka is your go-to person if you want latest applications or technology featured.