An agile, highly automated New IP network enabled by SDN and NFV could justify the business case for IoT, according to a panel of industry experts at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in Chicago.
Cost savings is always top of mind for service providers today, as ARPU declines but demand for data continues to grow exponentially. And in the case of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), technology for technology's sake is not useful to anyone unless it can improve business outcome, noted Rosalyn Roseboro, senior analyst at Heavy Reading.
In a recent blog, Roseboro revealed some of the results of a recent Heavy Reading survey of communications service providers, writing, "Making the connection between technology and business benefits will be a key challenge for the industry as we move forward." (See Building Momentum for the New IP.)
In fact, respondents to the Heavy Reading survey indicated that the biggest obstacle to deployment of both NFV and SDN at their company was the lack of a clearly defined business case. However, as discussed at BTE, IoT could be the business case needed to justify SDN and NFV deployments. (See charts at the end of this story for SDN and NFV survey results.)
Specifically, the network performance requirements needed to put the features and functions in place to drive Internet of Things (IoT) technology and deployments demand SDN and NFV -- especially from a business standpoint, according to Andrew Coward, vice president of service provider strategy at Brocade, who spoke on the BTE "Prepping Your Network for IoT panel" last week. "You can do IoT without NFV and SDN, but you won't like it because of the cost points," he said.
Software can be used to solve many of the scalability problems previously plaguing the IoT sector -- especially around flexibility, customization, sensors, security and analytics, noted Coward.
With regard to analytics, NFV and SDN can be used to not only "follow the data around," but also to show how IoT applications are performing on the network -- and this will drive value out of IoT, according to Coward.
"The value is in the data that you bring back, and you harvest that through analytics," said John DiGiglio, IOT networking segment manager of the Network Platforms Group at Intel, who also spoke on the IoT panel.
Another way to drive value out of IoT is through utilizing partners and ecosystems, noted Marc Adams, vice president of sales and marketing for M2M DataSmart Corp. "The value is that if [service providers] are adding technology to solve common business challenges, they have to get the partners involved to make it a commercial viability," said Adams. "The key thing is that once they start down that path, you need to make sure you have means to bring in partners and jump through hurdles."
Several panelists used AT&T Digital Life security and home automation service as a successful example of an NFV and IoT use case that pulls together an ecosystem of service providers and partners to solve problems that people weren't able to solve previously. Panelists agreed that that Digital Life succeeded because AT&T orchestrated the service itself, and has the mobile network to do it. (See The New IP Way of Digital Life.)
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP