The time for NFV and SDN is now

It’s just a matter of time. By 2018 – according to industry research – monthly global mobile data will surpass 15 Exabytes. That’s ten times the number consumed on the network at the end of 2013!

Guest author

December 14, 2015

5 Min Read
The time for NFV and SDN is now

VENDOR VIEW – Intel partnered with to detail its views and activities in the areas of NFV and SDN, and to demonstrate why the time has come for carriers to embrace the opportunities offered by these technologies.

It’s just a matter of time.  By 2018 – according to industry research – monthly global mobile data will surpass 15 Exabytes. That’s ten times the number consumed on the network at the end of 2013!

The 57% compound rate increase year on year signifies just how much a service provider’s network must grow to facilitate demand.  It can be a daunting task for an organisation to plan for such an expansion of their infrastructure. For example, a carrier has to consider if they have the scalability or speed within their existing central office and data center infrastructure to facilitate the data explosion? Or does a carrier have access to the technologies that will be used in 2018 and beyond?

If ever there was a time to transform a carrier’s network from a fixed function environment into a scalable, adaptable and cloud-ready platform – the time would be now.

On the surface it may be appear a daunting challenge to transform an organisation’s fixed function network, but it really doesn’t have to be. In fact, the next twelve months are an incredible opportunity for carriers, to future-proof their networks as demand keeps on increasing – especially with 5G looming over the horizon.

When considering a change in your network there are two solutions a carrier must consider: NFV and SDN.  Now, to most in the industry these aren’t new terms.  Industry experts have waxed glowingly about them, batted them about, and then debunked them in recent years. But like every new piece of technology, it has taken time for the vision to mature) into functional, usable solutions.  But now is the time to look to evaluate the potential value of NFV and SDN, because the technology has “Crossed the Chasm” (if you follow Geoffrey A Moore’s book).

To summarise, NFV (network functions virtualisation) essentially enables a wide-range of virtualised services to be hosted on a standard infrastructure platform.  This significantly simplifies operational field logistics, reduces costs and improves network agility and flexibility for an organisation.

On the other hand, SDN (software-defined networking) is all about giving network administrators the capability to rapidly reconfigure services, to match incoming customer or operational needs – reducing costly development/ management and more importantly giving you a network that can flex to the demands of the market, and end-users.

Intel are leading the way with the implementation of NFV and SDN, and are encouraging the industry to work with them, using open source software on their reference architecture to build a more intelligent ecosystem.  This will not only stimulate innovation, but increase competition in the market – driving application development forward to be more productive, less costly to implement and crucially, reducing the time it takes for the application to arrive on the market and to start delivering value.

We understand the key to transforming the market is Open Standards – and are working with key Open Source communities such as: Linux, OpenStack, Open Daylight, OPNFV and other groups to accelerate change in networks and advance the development of standards-based NFV/SDN solutions.

Going beyond the expected (and to show our commitment to this open standards vision), Intel has invested in the Network Builders community where we are working with 100’s of industry partners to harness NFV and SDN technology, and deliver innovative solutions to end users like Telefonica and Nasdaq so they can create the networks their organisations need.  It’s a great opportunity for the whole industry: equipment manufacturers, open source application developers, systems integrators, and network providers to come together to build the solutions that the market is calling out for, at break-neck speed.

We see Open-networking as all about delivering the future faster. By being more open (and need-based motivated) with the way technology is developed, we can give carriers the interworking solutions they need faster.  But this vision won’t come without collaboration.

Intel’s contribution to the open-source communities goes beyond software development investment.  We’re there to support the industry to stress and strain the latest technologies for the better development of the market.  To show this in action, Intel have already committed to pre-integrate state-of-the-art software in frequent Open Network Platform reference architecture releases, enabling industry partners to evaluate the latest network and processing technologies, and importantly feedback on requirements and performance.

To recap: at the start of this post we talked about data usage surpassing 15 Exabytes in 2018 – a number that still is mind-boggling.  As a carrier, the number can be viewed one of two ways. The first option is one with overlooking concern, as the carrier’s network gets strained further and further with each Snapchat or instant message sent.  Alternatively, a carrier can see an opportunity.  An opportunity to develop ahead of time an agile SDN/ NFV solutions-based network that will in the long term: save money, reduce management considerations, speed up application delivery, and be more agile to adjust to even greater data increases beyond 2018.

Put simply, the time is now to find out more about NFV and SDN.  To get that journey started, visit our website to learn more about how an organisation can transform their network with us at Intel, and the vast community of Network Builder partners.


Written by Murray Cooke of Intel

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