Monday, January 4, 2016

Blueprint: 2016 is the Year SDN Finds its Home, and its Name is NFV

by Peter Margaris, Head of Service Provider Product Marketing at F5 Networks

For the past few years, the testing and adoption of Software Defined Networking (SDN) has progressed incrementally. While at the same time, Service Providers (SPs) have made measurable progress towards the commercialization of network functions virtualization (NFV). SDN and NFV have been viewed as separate, but complimentary initiatives, but SPs are coupling these initiatives with the goal of transforming their entire networks. They are accelerating the adoption of NFV and SDN because of the speed in which they must adapt to the next generations of advanced devices, and due to the pressure to offer new and differentiated consumer and enterprise services. While there was significant progress in 2015, the continued evolution of industry standards and APIs, as well as the successful commercialization of multiple NFV use cases, will lead to Service Providers expanding their the SDN and NFV initiatives significantly in 2016.

Continued Evolution of Industry Standards and APIs 

The evolution of standards and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) among vendors in 2016 will be critical for SPs to drive forward their network transformations. Previously, the lack of standardization and integration among architecture components slowed the adoption of both SDN and NFV. There is no doubt that SPs are committed to SDN and NFV. This is evidenced by the trials, PoCs, and standards coalescing around the commercialization of L4-L7 service offerings. In the past 12 months, the community of vendors and operators have made great strides on this front. In particular, the collaborative efforts governed by OPNFV (the Open Platform for NFV) along with ETSI NFV have accelerated the evolution of the NFV reference platform.

Also in 2015, we’ve seen greater collaboration between the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) for SDN standards, and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) for NFV standards. The result is that SPs are incorporating SDN architectures alongside specific NFV use cases in both trials and commercial deployments. The ETSI PoC #38 is an example in which multiple vendors collaborated with Australian service provider, Telstra, to produce the ETSI-certified proof-of-concept around delivering customer premise equipment (CPE) to enterprise customers from the cloud. This is also referred to as virtual CPE (vCPE) services.1 Service providers are now in better position to take advantage of the real gains that have been made, and the continued and evolving network transformation in 2016 will certainly provide a continued business transformation as well.

Entrance into New Markets

Opportunities for SPs to commercialize SDN/NFV architectures will expand in 2016 as more L4-L7 services are deployed with high-level NFV orchestration systems and SDN infrastructures. Because NFV enables them to deliver L4-L7 services on-demand through an automated and policy-driven process, markets that otherwise were not accessible will open to SPs. NFV Networks can flex on-demand to incorporate a wider range of virtual network functions (VNFs) into their architectures. SPs will look to expand their use of VNFs with rich sets of APIs that are more easily deployable to support different use case scenarios, customizable service chains for customers, and efficient delivery of network services.

This is still only the early stages of a long migration that ultimately will enable service providers to transform their networks and their businesses with the flexibility and agility that only these new network architectures can deliver.

About the Author

As Head of Service Provider Product Marketing at F5 Networks, Peter Margaris is responsible for the company’s overall solution messaging, positioning and market strategy directed at F5’s service provider business segment. With a diverse background and over 25 years of experience in telecommunications and mobile technologies, he has held business leadership roles at Motorola, Nokia, and Alcatel-Lucent, as well as wireless start-up companies in Silicon Valley.
1 HP Press Release regarding ETSI PoC #38:

ETSI Web Site:    NFV ISG Proof of Concept #38:,_activation_and_orchestration_of_VNFs_in_carrier_networks

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