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SDN/NFV technologies: Innovative use cases and operator strategies

SDN/NFV technologies: Innovative use cases and operator strategies


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Executive Summary

The hype cycle for software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) has been long and steady. SDN separates control plane (network management) from data plane (traffic handling), allowing dynamic bandwidth, provisioned with quality of service levels. NFV replaces hardware with software apps able to operate in a compute environment, eliminating specialty WAN equipment and associated costs. The world's major network providers are trialing these technologies heavily to understand their benefits, both for themselves and for their business customers. They also seek to understand how, if they are not first-in, competitors with disruptive business models might try to use these emerging technologies against them.

Key Findings

The end goal for a fully software-driven and virtualized network is clear: A dynamic, on-demand global fabric where each application can order, set up and tear down services, performance and features as they are needed through automated API function calls. But the correct steps from the current state to this future end state are anything but clear.

It may seem that operators based in Asia and North America have pioneered SDN/NFV, and that European operators (with notable exceptions such as Colt and Deutsche Telekom) are not as advanced. When it comes to customer-facing commercial service launches, this is partly true. But large operators realize the risks of misplaced technology bets and single vendor lock-in. A growing number use SDN/NFV internally; they are also exploring and trialing the technologies externally, to see what benefits they can bring to customers.

SDN's on-demand bandwidth is capturing business from companies with seasonal variations, or with temporary needs. Many large enterprise IT departments however underscore the skills gap: they are not yet ready to embrace a fully dynamic, virtualized future.

New SDN/NFV technologies need real-time monitoring and management control that includes dynamic portal presentation to let customers reconfigure services as well as real-time updated billing information.

Besides SDN/NFV technologies, competitors should also keep a watchful eye on software defined WAN (SD-WAN) technologies, an adjacent category of services that is usually an intelligent overlay that threatens to commoditize underlying network resources.

Synopsis

"SDN/NFV technologies: Innovative use cases and operator strategies" provides insights around the functional areas where network operators are clustering with SDN and NFV technologies-SDN in the access network, SDN in the core network, NFV centralized in the cloud, and NFV in distributed virtual CPE (vCPE). The report covers network provider motivations for each category of service, notes some of the network providers active in each space, and lists what related competitive areas and/or services might be threats to the business model. The report looks at case studies in each category: Level 3 SDN access, Telstra SDN in the core network, CenturyLink centralized NFV and Masergy vCPE. NTT Com and AT&T are among other iconic early adopters of SDN/NFV; all of these competitors are active in more than one of the four SDN/NFV categories we define.

The Report is structured as follows:

Section 1: SDN in the access network

Section 2: SDN in the core network

Section 3: Centralized NFV

Section 4: Virtual CPE

Section 5: Key takeaways

Reasons To Buy

"SDN/NFV technologies: Innovative use cases and operator strategies" helps telecom executives develop a better understanding of the state of the SDN/NFV technologies and deployments, build proactive, profitable growth strategies built around SDN/NFV technologies and current and planned use cases included in this Report.

The analysis of leading operators' SDN/NFV deployments and how they derive benefits for their business and their customers should enable local players or prospective market entrants to gain the insight they need to develop their SDN/NFV strategies and products and services they can deploy built around these technologies.

This report identifies innovative SDN/NFV technology and monetization strategies from leading operators worldwide.

The report is designed for an executive-level audience, boasting presentation quality that allows it to be turned into presentable material immediately.

Table of contents

Table of exhibits

Executive Summary

Section 1: SDN in the access network

Market view

Implications

Case study: Level 3 Communications

Section 2: SDN in the core network

Market view

Implications

Case study: Telstra

Section 3: Centralized NFV

Market view

Implications

Case study: CenturyLink

Section 4: Virtual CPE

Market view

Implications

Case study: Masergy

Section 5: Key takeaways

Appendices

Acronyms and definitions

Companies mentioned

About Pyramid Research

Pyramid Research contact information

Exhibit 1: Implications of dynamic access for service providers and vendors

Exhibit 2: Implications of dynamic backbone for service providers and vendors

Exhibit 3: Implications of centralized NFV for service providers and vendors

Exhibit 4: Large enterprise uptake of centralized firewall/gateway Vs. Distributed architecture

Exhibit 5: Large enterprise adoption of broader network virtualization efforts

Exhibit 6: Implications of distributed CPE for service providers and vendors

Exhibit 1: Implications of dynamic access for service providers and vendors

Exhibit 2: Implications of dynamic backbone for service providers and vendors

Exhibit 3: Implications of centralized NFV for service providers and vendors

Exhibit 4: Large enterprise uptake of centralized firewall/gateway Vs. Distributed architecture

Exhibit 5: Large enterprise adoption of broader network virtualization efforts

Exhibit 6: Implications of distributed CPE for service providers and vendors

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Akamai

Alcatel-Lucent

Amazon Web Services

AT&T

Brocade

BT

CenturyLink

Certes Networks

Ciena

Cisco Systems

Citrix

Colt

Deutsche Telekom

EmergeCore

Fortinet

Hughes Network Systems

Infinera

Juniper Networks

Level 3

Masergy

Mirantis

NTT Com

Orange Business Services

Overture Networks

Sonus (Vello Systems)

Tail-f Systems

Telefonica

Telstra

tw telecom

Verizon

Vodafone

Software defined networking (SDN), network function virtualization (NFV), dynamic access, dynamic backbone, centralized NFV, vCPE, bandwidth-on-demand, Ethernet virtual circuits, PoP-to-PoP, PoP-to-premises, public cloud, private cloud, virtualized routers, software defined WAN, Level 3, Telstra, CenturyLink, Masergy, NTT Com, AT&T


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