Results of The New IP's SDN and NFV Readiness meter poll show that almost 50% of New IP readers say that SDN and NFV are top priorities at their organizations.
Are these results staggering or shocking? I'd have to say they are, somewhat. I must admit I expected the number to be higher considering we are now almost three years out from the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV ISG whitepaper. I really thought that by now, with all the industry momentum behind network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) -- key pieces of a New IP architecture -- our urgency meter would have been higher, didn't you? (See SDN & NFV Urgency Meter.)
It's true that service providers had been questioning the business case of SDN and NFV. In fact, back at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in Chicago in June, Heavy Reading research showed that service providers were questioning the business case, or lack thereof, for NFV and SDN, but recently, that's starting to change. Just a few weeks back, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) announced it was reducing provisioning times by 95% thanks to SDN. (See AT&T's SDN Efforts Paying Off Big Time and listen to Virtual Reality: AT&T's Network on Demand.)
While our poll does not break out the difference between service providers and vendors, vendors likely make up quite a portion of that near 50% who say their urgency is high because the New IP architecture of the future means moving away from physical hardware to virtualized networks built on white box hardware and software. This means vendors that built their business on the old IP are having to rapidly shift their businesses to remain relevant in the New IP world. (See Choosing a Technology Supplier? Consider Changing Your Selection Criteria.)
Back to the poll results, 32% said SDN and NFV were "medium priority -- they'll be important but they aren't an immediate priority," and almost 20% said it was "low priority -- they don't expect to move on SDN and NFV for at least the next two years."
Two years? I must admit, the medium and low priority results surprised me more than the high priority results considering how fast the industry has moved and changed in the three years since that ETSI NFV ISG whitepaper. Frankly, I can't imagine what things will look like two years from now. Suppliers that don't expect to move for at least the next two years will likely be left in the dust by companies like Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp.
Huawei has already started selling networking equipment into the US rural telco market, and as Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders noted in his blog on The New IP, "These rural telcos are Huawei's 'gateway customers' to Tier 2 accounts in the US, and thence to 'kingmaker' deals with the Tier 1s -- AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink." (See Huawei Opens Back Door Into US.)
As evidence of the urgency and the importance of the New IP transformation for suppliers, one CEO of a major North American equipment manufacturer agrees with Saunders and told him, "My worry is that in ten years' time, every network in the world will be built by a company in the East."
Here at the New IP, we tend to agree. It's time to shift that NFV and SDN urgency meter into high gear, folks.
Along the lines of New IP transformation, we've been talking a lot about containers on The New IP lately. So, for our next poll, I'm asking how important are containers in the New IP network architecture of the future? Check out our container poll and vote today. (See A Container Future.)
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP