It’s probably safe to say that this is one of the rare ocassions (perhaps the only) within telecoms and IT generally when the ‘hype’ which kicked off a technology adoption looks, in retrospect, to have been somewhat tame. Could it be that even more flags and laser lights might have justifiably been deployed 18 months ago to herald the signs of a concerted industry move to network virtualisation and automation using network functions virtualisation (NFV) and software defined network (SDN) approaches?
Certainly Infonetics' survey results read like an old Soviet election return. A full 97 per cent of the operators it surveyed plan to deploy SDN and 93 per cent plan to deploy NFV. Infonetics claims its sample of leading operators represents 51 per cent of worldwide telecom capex. One worries about the 3 per cent and 7 per cent respectively who had no plans or perhaps weren’t saying.
"This is the year that SDN and NFV move from the lab to field trials. Many carriers are in the process of moving from SDN/NFV proof-of-concept projects to working with vendors in the development and 'productization' of software that will become the basis for commercial deployments,” says Michael Howard, co-founder and principal analyst for carrier networks at Infonetics Research.
"Over the coming months, a few operators will move to actual commercial deployments, mostly specific NFV use cases, but only a few. It won't be until 2015 that we'll see commercial deployments kick into motion, still most likely on a limited basis, as operators put one or two use cases to the test under real world conditions, in their live networks."
Here some of the detailed findings from Infonetics:
29 per cent of survey participants are currently implementing SDNs, and 52 per cent plan to evaluate SDNs by the end of 2014.
Nearly every operator Infonetics surveyed plans to deploy SDN (97 per cent) or NFV (93 per cent) in some aspect of their network at some point.
A majority of respondents are targeting the MPLS backbone core and cloud services for SDN first, then multilayer transport.
Survey respondents rated business vE-CPE (using NFV for the delivery of services to businesses/enterprises) as the #1 use case overall for NFV in 2014-2015; business vE-CPE is also ranked the top use case for revenue generation.
Meanwhile, back office OSS/BSS was cited as the biggest barrier to deploying NFV by respondents.
Telecom and data center equipment vendors are well positioned to take considerable market share in SDN/NFV, with virtually all respondents stating they are likely to buy from the major vendors.
As carriers expect to eventually reduce spending on telecom hardware and software, a good way for vendors to increase revenue is by beefing up integration services to meet customers' needs and expectations.