Cost savings is the primary driver for accelerated NFV and SDN adoption, but these benefits will be realized gradually.
According to Technology Business Research’s 1Q18 NFV/SDN Telecom Market Landscape report, open-source groups will spur NFV and SDN adoption by establishing industry standards that foster interoperability among a broader range of solution providers.
“The ability to reduce capex will initially be the largest cost benefit realized by adopters of NFV and SDN as software-mediated technologies enable operators to significantly reduce spend on proprietary hardware,” said TBR telecom senior analyst Michael Soper. “Reducing opex will be a longer process as most operators will maintain both legacy and virtualized environments until they are ready to migrate fully to virtualized infrastructure.”
Figure 1: Total NFV/SDN spending by capex and external opex
Source: 1Q18 NFV/SDN Telecom Market Landscape, Technology Business Research 2018
As operators pursue cost reduction through NFV and SDN, incumbent vendors face numerous threats to their business models and disruption on multiple technology fronts. Industry trends are moving against the vendor community, with incumbent vendors, particularly hardware-centric vendors, poised to struggle the most.
Operators globally are focused on significantly reducing the cost of network operations and capex, underscored by a desire to disaggregate the black box and commoditize the hardware layer. White-box-based universal customer premises equipment is the leading application of industry-standard hardware thus far, but operators are targeting additional domains, including the core and edge network.
Operators are also facilitating NFV and SDN adoption by targeting new hires with relevant skill sets, retraining existing employees and launching internal startups to quickly improve their resource pools.