In the future telecom landscape, CSPs and suppliers will differentiate from their competitors on the basis of network software intelligence, not hardware. As telcos learn to adapt to true network and IT convergence and innovate more quickly, service agility will be the crucial force driving virtualized next-gen networks - a mixture of virtualized and traditional physical network assets where most of the core (namely the service layer) is virtualized.
In interviews with eight advanced CSPs that are actively exploring network virtualization technologies, we found that NFV is more real than SDN and can bring shorter-term capex savings in the network.
In terms of maturity, SDN is lagging behind NFV in CSPs’ networks compared to data centers. However, the key strategic benefit of network virtualization from the CSP point of view is increased OSS automation, which enables service agility (see figures 1 and 2), which in turn has the potential to increase revenues from new services and accelerate time to market.
Uncertainty about the benefits of network virtualization in terms of the total cost of ownership was expressed by all CSPs interviewed. They were concerned whether the expected 33% capex savings (as seen in data center environments) would be lost to increased virtualization software opex in the longer term.
Since the OSS will be a key enabler for achieving service agility, operational flexibility and optimization of costs, a holistic service agility framework is needed - a framework that increases the agility of service delivery and lifecycle management, and uses increased OSS automation that can provide near-real-time views and control of operations, with policy-controlled automation and analytics.
The new virtualized NGN-OSS must be cheaper and more agile - matching the flexibility and elasticity of virtualized networks, while still capable of managing traditional networks. It will also need to orchestrate and manage physical and virtual network resources for both existing and new services.