It's fair to say that network functions virtualization has moved well beyond the theoretical stage. For years, telecom experts have talked about how NFV would reshape the industry, providing numerous benefits ranging from lower CAPEX and OPEX costs to more agile service delivery. Now, members of the telecom space are ramping up their investment in NFV technology and looking to get ahead of the game. The message being sent is clear: NFV is not some flavor-of-the-week tech fad. It's value is tangible and can greatly benefit those organizations that implement it properly.
NFV addresses future telecom concerns
NFV presents an opportunity for service providers to alleviate pain points.
Cisco CEO John Chambers recently discussed some of the factors that are likely to cause upheaval in the telecom space in the coming years.
According to Light Reading, Chambers argued that the digitalization of the world - such as through the Internet of Things - will put more pressure on service providers to not only increase their footprint but the quality of their services as well. When just about everything relies on a network connection to function properly, service delivery becomes essential.
Chambers stated that many service providers will be unable to evolve with the changing times and ultimately disappear from the telecom landscape. He told the source that as many as half of today's service providers will lose their relevance over the course of the next ten years.
NFV investment on the rise
It's no surprise that some of the industry's biggest players - including Chambers' own company - are beginning to look at NFV in earnest. Cisco recently announced major NFV deals with some of Europe's largest telecoms, including Telstra, Telecom Italia and Deutsche Telekom. As Light Reading noted, the appeal of working with Cisco is the ability to use NFV to extend managed services to traditionally underserved markets. Deutsche Telekom, for instance, is reportedly planning on deploying VPN services to small and medium-sized businesses in Hungary, Croatia and Slovakia. With NFV, the telecom can launch various applications and other managed services to customers quickly and at a lower cost.
Similarly, Spain's Telefónica SA recently reached an agreement with HP to implement NFV and help the telecom overhaul its network arrangement. By making these changes, Telefónica SA officials expect to reduce their reliance on expensive equipment and instead utilize more fungible network assets that can be more easily managed. Meanwhile, VMware has also approached NFV intent on offering service providers a means to enhance their mobile networks and keep customers satisfied with high-quality and responsive services.
The jump to NFV won't happen overnight, however, and the transition will likely introduce other headaches that need to be dealt with. Telecoms interested in taking advantage of NFV need to consider how such a move will impact their network architecture. Legacy infrastructure and will need to be able to work in concert with new additions, and network engineers will need to find a way to manage NFV orchestration for these initiatives to be successful.
The takeaway: NFV has matured beyond the proof-of-concept stage, driving intense interest within the telecom space. As more service providers invest in this technology and look to alter their network infrastructure, high-quality solutions will be needed to address any NFV orchestration and automation issues.
Moving forward, service providers need to not only invest in new network architectures, but in new practices such as agile service development, continuous integration and DevOps. Cloud automation tools like QualiSystems CloudShell enable networking teams to build automated, DevOps-friendly innovation, development, testing and pre-production processes. This in turn helps bring new services and NFV service chains to market faster, with higher productivity and efficiency, while effectively bridging the gap between legacy components and virtual assets - which will be the heterogeneous and hybrid reality of the telecom infrastructure for years to come.