Tags: SDN & NFV

Industry prognosticators have been touting network functions virtualization (NFV) as an impact networking technology for years, citing the many potential benefits as reason to believe the technology would transform the way networking is done at a global level. While the efficiency boosts and cost reduction are certainly still expected, NFV has taken much longer than anticipated to get to full adoption and has yet to reach its true potential.

According to Technavio, the global NFV market will grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33 percent by the year 2020. While there are NFV applications being used as the virtual elements within hybrid network systems, the road to purely virtual networks is still likely at least a half-decade away, which is when expectations could become a reality as it pertains to NFV.

So, why the delay? There are several contributing factors that are slowing the “arrival” of pure NFV:

Still a Need for Legacy

Even with the excitement around NFV, network operators are not ready to let go of their legacy network infrastructure at this particular juncture. There remains a certain amount of risk involved with completely abandoning legacy network infrastructure in favor of a purely virtual model. Operators are certainly becoming more familiar with technologies like NFV, but they’re not likely to make a clean split from legacy networks until they feel virtual-only networks have substantially less risk than they do at the moment.

Pure NFV is Not an Overnight Proposition

Due to the hesitancy to abandon legacy infrastructure completely, it’s likely that adoption of NFV and other virtual technologies like software-defined networking (SDN) will come in phases. Network operators will likely take steps to offload more and more network functions from legacy to virtual infrastructure over time (as part of a phased hybrid network approach), to ensure a smooth transition with minimal to no impact to the end-user of the network.

The fact that pure NFV solutions aren’t yet being deployed doesn’t mean that operators shouldn’t take the necessary steps to prepare for them. Operators should, in fact, use this transitional period to prepare their operations for the pure NFV networks of tomorrow.

Tier One Operators Must Adopt NFV in Order for Tiers Two and Three to Follow

Deploying NFV across your global network is not cheap! Tier one operators are currently the only group likely to have pockets deep enough to support a shift to NFV-only networks. Tier ones are certainly dabbling in NFV, but for the aforementioned reasons, they won’t be quick to switch to NFV only. It’s fair to expect that once Tier ones start the trend to pure NFV, that the other tiers will follow suit, provided they have the funding to do so.

Prepare for NFV Now

Pure NFV isn’t here yet, but it IS coming. It’s just a matter of time. What’s more, NFV applications are currently being used as part of the hybrid network model, so it is wise for operators to determine the phases of their NFV roll-out plans, which should include closed-loop automation and network monitoring functionality. Here’s why each is crucial to successful hybrid, and eventually, pure NFV network operations:

Closed-Loop Automation: Hybrid networks by definition utilize both physical and virtual assets. While it isn’t possible to automate functions which run on physical infrastructure, it is possible to do so on the virtual portion of hybrid networks. Automating mission-critical functions vastly improves on network operation efficiencies, because it allows for changes to network elements in real time without the need for human intervention. As an example: if there is a failure within the network, it could take hours, days or even longer to properly identity what the issue is, formulate a plan to address it, and deploy personnel to execute the fix. If there are automated processes in place to identify and address a network failure, the time to triage can be vastly reduced, meaning far less downtime for operators.

Network Monitoring: Hybrid networks are currently very complex, a trend that will only increase as disruptive technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, AI, VR and others are deployed within global network systems. So as pure NFV solutions come closer to the fruition, the importance of network monitoring solutions that provide critical insights and help operators manage their entire networks increase exponentially. Because of this, it’s absolutely crucial that network operators are properly monitoring their networks, preferably with a solution that gathers data from both physical and virtual assets in a single dashboard.

CENX 7 Effectively Monitors Hybrid Networks

The rise of NFV means there is, and will always be, a need for a solution that goes beyond traditional capabilities of legacy systems, and helps service providers efficiently monitor and assure their increasingly agile and flexible network. CENX 7 does just that.

With CENX 7, service providers can deliver and cost-effectively manage complex, high-value services with the flexibility, performance, and scalability hybrid NFV and physical networks require.

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