Unlocking The Potential Of SDN And NFV

Unlocking The Potential Of SDN And NFV

By Sohini Bagchi 

In the enterprise networking space, the Internet of Things (IoT) is gradually becoming mainstream. According to IT industry body NASSCOM, the global IoT business is expected to touch USD 300 billion by 2020. And according to Grand View Research, the global enterprise networking market is expected to touch USD 64.6 billion in revenue by 2024. With this transformation, it is interesting to note how the future of connected enterprise would be like.

Wind River, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation that delivers software in the Internet of Things (IoT) domain is hosting its annual event WIND FORUM 2016, in Bangalore. Ahead of the event, Jegan Arthanari, Head of Worldwide Field Engineering Organization (FEO) at Wind River, discusses the major factors driving the demand of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) in the enterprise (especially in sectors like telecom) and the challenges ahead.

jegan

What’s driving the demand?

NFV promises to revolutionize carrier networks by providing communications service providers (CSPs) with unprecedented flexibility in how they deploy and manage network equipment and services. Virtualization decouples network functions from hardware, allowing VNFs to be located anywhere in the network where they can be most cost-efficient.

Arthanari believes that most operators do want the three layer decoupling to ensure complete flexibility and to avoid vendor lock-in and that the anticipated cost benefits are expected to be immediate.

“VNFs can be physically located in one or more data centers, reducing operational costs. Further cost reductions are achieved by consolidating multiple network functions and taking advantage of NFV’s efficient equipment utilization, allowing reductions in the amount of equipment, spares inventory, equipment real estate, cabling, and power consumption. And the NFV server’s building block approach results in shorter development cycles and improved operational efficiencies because of the commonality of tools and increased network management automation,” he said.

The inherent benefits of NFV also enable flexibility in the level of service availability achieved. Protection groups can be set up in a wide range of sizes, service mixes, and configurations, and can be protected using an equally wide range of redundancy strategies. Virtualization enables efficient use of redundant resources, minimizing the cost of redundancy, said Arthanari.

He quoted a study of IT data center outages by Ponemon Institute Research that reported an average outage cost of USD 690,240 per incident, or USD 6,828 per minute. These are total costs, due to IT operations, reduced productivity, lost revenue, and business disruption.

But Arthanari believes, these IT costs are relatively small when compared to public carrier network outage costs. For example, a France Telecom outage in July 2011, left 28 million customers without phone and text messaging service for over 12 hours, costing France Telecom between USD 12M and USD 25M in repair costs and customer refunds. Further, service outage costs vary depending on the type of service.

Challenges remain

While over-passing the legacy system is still a huge challenge in this feild, there are other major challenges in the deployment of SDN and NFV especially in the context of India, said Arthanari.

“The service providers have tremendously long tail of legacy infrastructure, dedicated purpose built systems, proprietary service delivery mechanism, software that is deeply embedded and finally boat load of legacy OSS and BSS application to add to that complexity. The path to NFV seems multi-phased, the services providers are greatly focused on the decoupling right now, which is the most critical step,” he said.

Moreover, Jegan believes, today the operators are operations centric and their engineers and support team are excel in Network Operations, it is not easy to convert them from Operations specialist to Dev Ops specialists or making them software developers.

“The operators are repurposing their network engineers to acquire the necessary Software skills that required for such transformation. TEMs have been providing the most critical SLA for the systems they deliver to the Operators and guaranteed up-time either through redundancy or over provisioning when the Operator wants to own the entire NFV spectrum they need to acquire necessary skills to manage this escalation and restore the operational state of the networks,” he explained.

India has potential

India being still very young in terms of the mobile installations but growing at the fast pace may not have all the extra baggage that other operators might have and they have embraced the NFV from the inception. “We see surge in the Operator/TEM led POCs in India, with the size of the younger generation we have, it is a huge market for Operators to provide additional services that helps to monetize or improve the ARPU/ARPD (Average Revenue per User/Device),” said Arthanari.

“Imagine if the Video on Demand picks up here, the operators won’t be able to continue with their legacy system, they need to move fast and find low cost, yet stable guaranteed network that delivers the demand without losing their profit margin,” he said.

Finally the TEMs and System Integrators (SI) will continue to play a key role in enabling NFV based solution for the Operators and able to provide fully open and compatible network applications/systems. NFV needs huge eco-system to be successful and we see that trend already, concluded Arthanari.

Article originally published on CXO Today.

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