It’s a software and application world – nobody can question that. Consumers are spending more time using their apps than traditional consumption models, and even businesses are leveraging software to enhance flexibility and capabilities in a mobile-first world. What it means for the network operator community is affirmation that NFV and SDN, which have been touted as the undeniable future of networks and service delivery, are the path to the future. Even as adoption is slower – much slower – than many anticipated – new builds are being designed with a software-based mindset, NFV-enabling networks and specific components and applications, even if a complete migration is years off.
“Many of the large carriers are aggressively looking at NFV migration,” says GENBAND Vice President, Solutions Marketing & Strategy, Sanjay Bhatia. “Many of them are even changing their entire organizations for it, but it’s a very large undertaking and process, so it is going to take a lot of time and planning.”
Indeed, these are large ships to turn, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Nor should it, as the risk would be overwhelmingly great, trying to do a full-blown migration to NFV at once – even if were possible from and engineering or fiscal perspective. So, common practice has logically become a phased migration based on imminent areas of opportunity. In other words, when an operator sees an opportunity to benefit from an NFV-enabled application, it will make one-off migrations until its left with only those legacy elements and services that won’t benefit from the flexibility and agility of a software approach. When that happens, it’s also a safe bet most of those services will have neared end of life and are likely to be replaced in short order.
“With these point solutions, they take a slice off the network to address a very specific problem, such as the enterprise SBC, for instance,” explains Bhatia. “This is what we are seeing, certainly in the short term, as there are very few true greenfield opportunities for networks.”
The process also helps reduce the number of truckrolls to businesses in many instances, by enabling the deployment, management, and maintenance of software applications as opposed to in-premises hardware.
As much as GENBAND is helping drive its customers towards NFV, it is also helping to shape the market with its own implementation. Bhatia says GENBAND is moving all of its applications into an NFV environment, the idea being to automate them all in collaboration with its ecosystem partners to create a more flexible and efficient service model.
The ecosystem approach has been key to GENAND’s success not only in the NFV world, but has also been a key driver of the success of its KANDY platform, which just celebrated its one-year birthday and has experienced tremendous adoption through its first 365 days. While most do agree software is the future, those that embrace the ecosystem model are likely to enjoy greater success that those who prefer to trumpet an antiquated single-vendor approach.
“No one vendor can do it all itself – that’s what NFV is about, openness and collaboration,” Bhatia says. “And it’s all moving us further into the software and cloud world.”