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NFV one year on: Hype or Hope?

Over the past year TelecomTV's Martyn Warwick has interviewed dozens of people in the know on both SDN (Software Defined Networking) and NFV, the two three-letter acronymns that together have dominated the network debate.

Taken together the two sets of approaches and techniques promise to completely reshape networks and the networking market so it’s hardly surprising that many companies and individuals feel the need to hold forth on the changes, many of them on our programmes.

I’ve pulled out four interviews, recently done at various events, that in different ways shine light on NFV and its apparent adoption by the industry. Our interviewees are:

Dor Skuler, VP & GM Cloud Business Unit, Alcatel-Lucent

Axel Clauberg, VP IP and Fixed Access at Deutsche Telekom

Eric Hanselman, Chief Analyst at 451 Research

Dr. David Amzallag, VP, Virtual Telecommunications and Cloudband CTO at Alcatel-Lucent

So has there been hype? Depends how you define hype. If you mean: “has there been a lot of noise?” certainly. If your “hype” means misplaced enthusiasm then no. There’s no evidence that puts NFV as a data point somewhere on the Gartner hype curve,

According to Dor Skuler progress with NFV has been huge since last year. He identifies three stages - Awareness, Experimentation and Execution. In some cases companies are already at the execution stage

“Actual NFV in the network is happening now. It actually took us by surprise as to how willing customers are to introduce NFV quickly,” he claims.

“Yes, there are still a lot of naysayers, but the tide is clearly shifting.”

For Axel Clauberg it’s really a done deal. All the operators, he says, are behind the NFV concept. They have to be because of the huge expected growth in capacity and traffic; its adoption is the only way forward.

“2015 is probably the right time for customers to be rolling out NFV in a concerted fashion,” he maintains. But there is still a job of work to do not to spread the word, but to clarify the word that’s already out there. “Go into a room of 100 people, ask them what NFV is and you’ll get 150 different answers back.”

Security is one push back that NFV advocates hear a lot about, but for Eric Hanselman it’s usually raised as a part of a broader concern over change itself. “It is perceived to be very risky so security comes up over and over again. But the real impediment is around the people/political issues. They've been silo'd for so long that it's the larger end of that challenge,” he says.

If anything our experts have become even more convinced over the past year that NFV is poised to completely rewrite the networking story. Dr. David Amzallag outlines his vision for management of the new network, enabled by NFV. In his view the outcome will be a single OSS controlling the entire network. And he doesn’t think it’s that far off.

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