Network Function Virtualization is Steadily Approaching

The second panel that I moderated during IT Expo was “How Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is Reshaping Managed Services in the 21st Century“. The panel members from Versa Networks, mTusker and Oracle, not surprisingly, were quite expert in their understanding of NFV. its current state as a product, industry participants, launch timing and potential adoption rates. While nothing is done quickly by the major Service Providers, NFV is closer to reality than I suspected as the standards and testing have proceeded at a deliberate pace. Interoperability is an issue and the financial benefits of NFV for the carriers is under debate as some of the return-on-investment numbers have been lower than initially forecasted. Moreover, the features that should drive the adoption by Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and businesses continue to be in flux. MSPs selling the product still need to understand what they will be able to accomplish when NFV is in place, i.e., what elements will be driven by them versus being offered to them by the service providers and what will those features and benefits deliver to an end-user.

One additional area worth discussing is the differentiation between NFV and Software Defined Networking (SDN). With some, there is a clear demarcation between NFV and SDN, whereas, with others there isn’t. With some the line is between operational and management aspects of the network and application delivery.

From a marketing perspective, NFV and SDN are in flux as to definition and too technical and confusing for the layman. However, moving functionality from the physical network infrastructure to centralized software and databases is not new. It took time but eventually SCPs, STPs and SS7 links were accepted and recognized for their roles in supporting the Intelligent Network that supports today’s calling features and wireless network roaming. Eventually, the same will hold true for virtualizing the core management and functions of the telecom networks. Therefore, education and expanding knowledge about the pending changes is important. Specifics related to actual ROI, roles and features will follow.

Perhaps, next year I’ll get an opportunity to handle another panel where this subject will be addressed. For now, NFV is a new technology coming to Telecom that will position it for new applications and services. Exciting!

The Raven Guru Marketing team industry experience is very broad with a focus on telecom, technology and cloud solutions.

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