Jumping the SDN/NFV Disillusion Curve
By Manjeet Dhariwal, Co-founder & CTO, CloudSmartz
SDN: Through the Trough of Enlightenment
Communications Service Providers (CSPs) around the world, big and small, are betting big on software-defined networking and network function virtualization – giving a head start on cloud-based network and appliance services – Companies that include Telstra, NTT, Nokia, China Telecom, AT&T, Verizon and many others are just grasping the tip of the iceberg of SDN/NFV functionality and capabilities. Many are working with Bandwidth on Demand, SD-WAN, vCPE, VNFs as a Service, Mobile vEPC, SDDC, and more.
“CSPs that remain in their legacy world in terms of Products and their Business and Operational Support Systems will get left behind.”
While most communication companies have been heavily focused at the southbound network, there is a northbound component that needs to be built in parallel to really see the benefits of SDN/NFV: Productization and new revenue streams, increased customer experience, and cutting OPEX/CAPEX costs.
The optimal path to real SDN deployment progress is through an actual operationalized value and revenue generating solution (deploying a product) vs. a technology plane or POC effort that doesn’t yield real value quickly. New revenue opportunities will help drive the decision process in addition to operational efficiencies.
CSPs need to be willing to adopt new operating models where the customer is in control and recognize that customers know more about their business than CSPs do with respect to their specific network/bandwidth needs.
Speed up SDN/NFV Implementation
As we move into 2017,
more and more Communications Service Providers will either be implementing new SDN/NFV solutions for their enterprise clients, or riding out the thought that SDN/NFV is not the right strategic direction. You’re moving in the right direction if you realize that these SDN/NFV based services provide a compelling alternative to traditional approaches and also allows for competitive services in the marketplace – the first movers will have a competitive advantage on price, customer experience, and cutting operational costs.
CSPs that move sooner than later have the potential of being a disruptive force in the market, putting pressure on other CSPs and networking vendors to accelerate their SDN or NFV implementations.
Educate Your Vendors to this Trend
Your vendors should help you stay competitive. Another objective to getting ahead with SDN/NFV is to continue to push your networking, hardware, and software vendors to accelerate their own development of SDN and NFV capabilities.
This shift will set the stage for the decline of traditional telecom and networking technologies, which is both expensive and inflexible — and not only irrelevant in today’s cloud age, but a barrier to entering the SDN/NFV market. CSPs that remain in their legacy world in terms of Products and their Business and Operational Support Systems will get left behind. However, the good news is that this is one time in the telecom industry where CSPs can leapfrog their way to the cutting edge of the market.
Open Source or Bust
Software Defined Networking is, in part, defined by its open-source resources. With the freedom of the software-driven network, enterprises can favor adaptable controllers above standard providers to no longer be locked into one particular vendor. Like other aspects of the new network model, open-source controllers can be confusing to the uninitiated. After all, why trust important network management to something that can be so easily changed?
How Will You Win in 2017 and Beyond?
If SDN/NFV initiatives are not on your strategic roadmap, you should really take a look at the productization and monetization of this new networking concept to really understand the true value of an SDN deployment. Adoption to customer driven models is a key, as is a top down – bottom up approach – and commitment to a software-driven culture versus proprietary hardware boxes that inflexibly tie down your resources and lock-you into non-fluid movement within the market.