‘Year 0’ for real orchestrated NFV/SDN deployments
Mobile World Congress provides a good opportunity to assess the state of network virtualisation in the telecom market.
Mobile World Congress provides a good opportunity to assess the state of network virtualisation in the telecom market. This year, it provided Analysys Mason with a prime opportunity to verify three central theses in our upcoming report on network orchestration:
- Network equipment providers (NEPs) are ahead of other vendor types in gaining commercial legitimacy for their network orchestration (NWO) solutions.
- Communications service providers (CSPs) want integrated solutions so they can launch NWO fast, but this expediency should not come at the cost of modularity and multi-vendor interoperability.
- Commercial orchestrated NFV/SDN implementations remain largely experimental, but that is likely to change in 2016.
Proven operationalisation is the critical factor that will move network orchestration from experimental to embraced as the standard way to manage networks, says Dana A. Cooperson, research director, Analysys Mason.
‘Carrier class’ networking expertise is highly valued by CSPs
When the telecom industry first started embracing virtualisation from the IT industry, many presumed that ‘five 9s’ carrier class reliability assumptions would warrant rethinking. CSPs are indeed rethinking what it means for a virtualised solution to be ‘carrier class’, but they are emphatically not abandoning the concept. NEPs are using their expertise in running geographically distributed networks as an advantage in NWO, particularly over the IT players; the performance requirements of these networks are often significantly higher than those for IT cloud-based networks.
Of the five vendors with three or more verifiable commercial orchestrated CSP network deployments, four are NEPs (Alcatel-Lucent/Nokia, Cisco Systems, Ericsson, NEC/NetCracker), albeit with large software and services businesses; one is an OSS/BSS ISV (Amdocs). Other vendors— including CENX, Ciena, Fujitsu, HPE, Huawei, Oracle, Overture and WebNMS— have at least one commercial deal. We count roughly 35 limited deals through early 2016; we expect both the number of deals and the size of deployments to increase significantly this year.
Expediency over ‘architectural purity’
There are multiple functions that comprise network orchestration (NWO) solutions for virtual networks, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Functional blocks of network orchestration
Most vendors’ NWO solutions include multiple functions. If so, an integrated solution must not sacrifice network abstraction and functional modularity lest it negatively affect proper lifecycle management and multi-vendor interoperability.
We are seeing quite a few CSPs push NWO vendors to blur the lines between NWO modules in order to get a service (e.g., a vCPE-based enterprise service) launched quickly. More troublesome, we are seeing a blurring between NWO, a resource management function, and service orchestration, a customer order fulfilment function. CSPs must take care not to push expediency to the point that they sacrifice solution modularity and interoperability.
Moving orchestration from ‘experimental’ to ‘embraced’
As shown in Figure 2, many factors need to mature before the market for orchestrated network deployments moves from experimentation (shown by the pink shading in the chart) to what Analysis Mason calls the ‘gold zone’, where the technology has been embraced and is being adopted by a critical mass of CSPs (shown by the gold shading). The number of competitors is more than adequate, but CSPs are not sufficiently experienced with orchestrating network resources to begin wholeheartedly adopting the technology. We will be analysing NWO’s transition from experimental to embraced in our network innovation research programmes in 2016 and beyond.
Figure 2: Network orchestration is not yet in the ‘gold zone’ of commercial adoption
The author of this blog is Dana A. Cooperson, research director, Analysys Mason.
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