NFV is indeed everywhere today as service providers look to transform their networks to meet the demands of a New IP future. But there still are a few limiting factors, including security, business cases, analytics and management and orchestration, according to many speakers at Light Reading's NFV Everywhere event in Dallas.
The event covered a range of important topics and raised many issues around network functions virtualization (NFV) such as its impact on servers, core network evolution, the role of analytics and the importance of open source. Here are my top takeaways from Dallas:
Open source can boost security. According to latest research from Heavy Reading, 77% of operators surveyed rank security as the biggest challenge. However, some service providers at the event, focused on how open source can help with security -- rather than make it worse.
Ray Watson, VP of technology, Masergy Communications Inc. , noted at the event, "Open source is fundamental to NFV. It's more than OK." With so many eyes on the code, every single breach is pushed to a high level of awareness, he said.
However, he added that being complacent about the code is a no-no. "The biggest lesson is that you can use open source, but you should verify and do your own monitoring," said Watson. "Some of the world's biggest disasters happened because someone thought someone else already checked it."
Fragmentation is creating barriers. Industry fragmentation is making it difficult for service providers to build an ecosystem capable of building a complete NFV platform, according to Francisco-Javier Ramon Salguero, head of network virtualization, Telefónica . "We can't rely on the things we expect to [rely on]. Integration is needed to enable the ecosystem, otherwise, it will not work."
Salguero said Telefonica is seeing firsthand how difficult it is to implement a solution because there are still a lot of interfaces that need to be defined. While many groups out there are working on that, including Open Platform for NFV Project Inc. , he said they need to move faster. "They need to move beyond Power Point to getting things done."
Analytics are vital to NFV. From customer experience and customer care to network intelligence and security, with NFV, analytics has moved from the business intelligence realm into the network and customer domains. "NFV gives the ability to have unprecedented levels of network monitoring and fault management capabilities" said Don Clarke, principal architect, network technologies, CableLabs . The imperative to get to market quickly means that test and diagnostics might be less emphasized in the rush to deployment. This is where analytics can impact business value, especially as providers re-architect their networks to dynamically push content closer to their customers.
NFV is about the customer. Main Street USA is a good analogy for where the industry has been in terms of customer relationships but not where it's headed, said Tim Naramore, CTO Masergy. Whereas in the past, shoppers were used to going from shop to shop and building separate relationships for each goods or service, today, customers want a one-stop shop and they want it to come to them.
"They don't want to have to worry about the vendor," he said. "This is what carriers and service providers can be for our customers. The key element is user control and that's what I believe is the key benefit of this technology."
NFV will fail without BSS and OSS transformation. Service providers are looking to develop new services with SDN and NFV, but if you can't provision it or sell that and put it into your catalog and bill for it, the value is lost, said Todd Spraggins, strategy director, CTO Office, Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL). "Those systems have to change to keep up with the velocity that the network is going on."
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP