2016 has certainly started off with a bang between the completion of the Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Alcatel-Lucent merger and ADVA Optical Networking (Frankfurt: ADV) 's acquisition of Overture Networks Inc. in order to boost its NFV portfolio -- and all signs indicate we are just getting started. But let's not forget how we got where we are today. 2015 was fraught with challenges and questions about New IP viability and affordability -- and in our latest poll, New IP readers voted on the biggest challenges of the year.
Coming in at the top of the list was a tie between finances and interoperability -- both taking 33% of the vote. It's true that "figuring out the business case for moving from legacy to New IP" was a big challenge in 2015, but many service providers, such as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T),
CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Masergy Communications Inc. , Telefónica and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), took steps to determine their best approach and they varied widely. This is proof that moving to New IP is not one size fits all.
In the same vein, interoperability was also a big challenge for New IP as the The New IP Agency (NIA) test proved toward the end of the year. Completed by
European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) for the NIA, the test focused on interoperability between multiple network functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVi) systems and multiple virtual network functions (VNFs). The results showed that interoperability is definitely a challenge. (Read: EXCLUSIVE! NFV Interop Evaluation Results and listen: Putting NFV to the Test.)
Taking second place in the poll was also a tie between "networking" and "security," both with 11% of the vote. Here "networking" was defined as understanding the impact and challenge of white box networks on CSP networks. Many experts at Light Reading's White Box Strategies event in Santa Clara, Calif., in November agreed that while white boxes may be cheaper than more specialized hardware, the benefits and challenges of white boxes include complications around integration, lifecycle management, ability to upgrade features and services quickly, retraining staff and retooling processes. (See White Boxes Not Necessarily Cheaper Option.)
Security is also a big challenge in a virtualized New IP world as 11% of voters indicated -- but 2016 may be the year that we start to see big changes in the way networks are protected -- finally starting to move away from big walls to smaller fences around individual functions, which is something a New IP network affords, according to Andrew Coward, VP of strategy at Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) 2016 will be the year where we start to see artificial intelligence and machine learning making an impact on network security by enabling software-defined networking elements to intelligently move, adapt and control the network based on data. (See 2020 Vision: Brocade on Virtualization & Automation.)
The talent challenge came in second to last in our poll with 7% of the vote, followed by "Technology: Getting NFV out of the lab and into PoCs." While these two choices came in last, they are certainly top of mind -- especially talent, because if New IP readers recall, AT&T is reskilling its workforce to tackle a software-defined, open source future. And when it comes to moving NFV out of the lab and into PoCs, that was a big challenge in 2015, for sure, but when pitted against all the choices, it somehow seems the least of our worries.
Speaking of worries, let's talk about 2016! What are your predictions for what's ahead? Vote today in our new poll: Predicting the New IP Future.
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP