SDN & NFV: Winning the enterprise ICT innovation game
In my last post I introduced the concepts of SDN (Software-Defined Networking) and NFV (Network Functions Virtualisation) and the important role they can play within ICT departments looking to innovate or cut through the complexity of legacy systems. Let’s now take a closer look at both of these technologies.
Firstly, while often thought of as competitive, NFV and SDN are in fact complementary. Together, they can transform corporate networks by ensuring every element can be managed and controlled centrally, through software. They pave the way for ‘enterprise app stores’ of cloud and networking services, where ICT departments can manage various applications (such as Firewalls and SSL VPNs) via an online portal, says, Len Padilla, VP Product Services, NTT Communications.
As a result, SDN and NFV make it possible for new services to be provisioned within minutes, so that onsite deployment scalability challenges are removed. This means SDN and NFV can have a big impact on business competitiveness on all levels. Here’s how:
- They reduce complexity by eliminating the ownership and management of thousands of network devices, bringing management to one central administrator portal
- SDN and NFV improve security because ICT departments can create more systematic and streamlined security policies. Not only does this mean they can patch threats more quickly, but this approach also reduces human error that often lead to costly data breaches, as we’ve seen from the likes of Great Ormond Street which sent personal medical information to the wrong patients
- Greater network agility is achieved because network functions are incorporated into the cloud. This gives administrators unprecedented control over the path of network packets, so bottlenecks can be pin-pointed easily and traffic redirected
- SDN & NFV enable new-work and remote-work by making it faster and easier to give people VPN access or create a new network security policy. Instead of logging in and configuring all the devices involved, a network admin would simply configure or modify a policy on a central portal workers
- They also save on cash – Gartner notes that SDN can result-in opex savings of $35 to $100 per year, per virtual server, and reduce capex on individual network devices by 50-70%. For example, our customers can turn on and buy services in real time within minutes and don’t have to invest upfront for a five year lock-in contract
With such benefits, it’s easy to see why Research and Market expect adoption of SDN and NFV to grow by 60% between 2015 and 2020 – with the market as a whole reaching nearly $1.7 billion. From their beginnings in telecoms and now within the enterprise, the duo is revolutionising enterprise ICT in the way SaaS and PaaS are in applications. Enterprises that have committed to digital transformation should build SDN and NFV into their roadmaps if they haven’t already.
The flexibility and scalability of SDN and NFV mean that enterprise ICT will always be ‘right-sized’ – businesses will only pay for the resources they use, while the asset-light approach means less of the ICT budget is spent on acquiring equipment and maintenance. This means that CIOs can design and roll out the global network infrastructures they need, on demand. It will be almost as easy as downloading an app from an app store.
The author of this blog is Len Padilla, VP Product Services, NTT Communications.
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