The engines behind SDN, NFV

Ed Finegold
NetCracker Technology

Telcos need firm answers as they investigate the near- and long-term roles software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) will play in their networks. This new technology domain may offer significant promises, but realists know that deploying new technology is rarely as simple or revolutionary as might be projected.

SDN and NFV won’t act alone — they need a strong supporting cast to succeed. With that point in mind, here are five factors operators should consider as they determine their SDN and NFV strategies.

First, not everything will be virtualized. Functions and services that are particularly sensitive to jitter or delay, or those that require real-time response to act against security threats, may continue to be best fulfilled by purpose-built hardware.

Similarly, the intent of SDN and NFV is to virtualize control plane functions. The data plane is less likely to be virtualized. Understanding what will not become virtualized is important to understand, particularly with regard to service creation, fulfillment and assurance in increasingly virtualized and hybrid networks.

Second, orchestration is mandatory. Given that not all network components will be virtualized and that the shift to more virtualization will take time, a hybrid network environment is inevitable.

In this environment, services will need to traverse virtualized and traditional network domains seamlessly. Operators need to deliver services to customers consistently regardless of how the network aspects are fulfilled.

Third, service assurance and service fulfillment unite. One industry trend that is driving interest in both SDN and NFV is the shift to more on-demand, policy-driven services -– many of which are delivered from the cloud. In this environment, we’re exiting a world where customers are compensated in arrears for failure to comply with SLAs.

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