Part of the promise of NFV is that it will make enterprises and Communications Service Providers (CSPs) notably more agile. In the case of CSPs, it is often said that NFV will make these organizations as agile as Over The Top (OTT) players such as Google. I have no doubt that implementing NFV will make organizations more agile at performing the same tasks they currently are doing. For example, NFV will enable an organization to dynamically add the capacity it needs to meet its service level agreements for an existing service. The bigger question is will NFV enable organizations to roll out new services notably faster? The answer to that is yes it can, but only if the organizations adopt a fail-fast culture.
Judging from the number of discussions, communities and deployments, it is clear that NFV is gaining traction. But just because NFV is gaining traction from a technology/ maturity standpoint doesn’t mean NFV has gained widespread adoption. The physical customer premise equipment (P-CPE) that has support legacy revenue streams isn’t going away any time soon, but service providers need a more effective way to deploy NFV.
Service providers are bleeding! Over the last few years, service providers have had their lunch absolutely devoured by OTT (Over the Top) applications and services: When Skype (or WhatsApp, or Google Hangouts, or Facebook Messenger) allows users to make calls over Wi-Fi and data, for example, consumers pay less than a network would charge them for making an ordinary phone call. When users use the chat functions embedded in these apps, service providers can’t capture the revenue provided by text-messaging rates. When someone cuts the cord and switches to exclusively watching Netflix (or Hulu or Amazon Instant Video), then an entire cable bill’s worth of revenue is lost. As of 2014, telecom companies alone have lost $386 billion to OTT apps, and the meter is still running.
In the world of telecoms, interoperability showcases aren’t anything new. As every year, a number of vendors recently gathered at EANTC lab in Berlin to gain EANTC recognition and certification for their equipment’s interoperability. While the results of the 2 weeks testing were publicized and analyzed across the industry, there’s so much more to these showcases than many people realize.
Some of us may remember the time when long distance calls across the ocean were often accompanied by an annoying delay between the time we finished a sentence and the other party replying. We would say, “We're probably connected via a satellite. I like it better when these calls are routed through an undersea cable.”
My last post provided a short overview of Network Function Virtualization (NFV); if you’re new to this terminology, it would probably be best to review that post before reading this one. It discusses the idea of moving network functionality, such as the various components of a firewall service, off of custom built appliances and onto commonly used server hardware. Various powerful benefits of NFV are also discussed. However, I’ve been asked by ECI to explain: “if everything is so hunky dory, why isn’t NFV being more widely deployed?