NFV: Don’t get stuck in a virtual rut
Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) has been a source of a lot of doubt for the telecoms industry over the years. The fight to dominate the market with this technology is far from over, says Robin Kent, director of European operations, Adax. Frustration has grown as it has gathered little momentum.
Businesses are currently facing technical challenges, such as skills shortages and operational change, and this is slowing down pace and scope of commercial implementations. Due to this, most service providers questioned in a survey by Telecoms.com now say that NFV will have only a modest impact on business success, over the next five years. We should ask ourselves: should we believe the hype?
The smoke and mirrors of NFV
High costs of deployment, complexity of NFV operations, skills shortages and lack of investment in/internal commitment to NFV are big barriers to success for companies with regards to deployment. Service providers are finding that NFV is seemingly difficult and complex for many service providers to deploy at scale. Similarly, another major challenge for companies is integration with legacy equipment.
Hinderance to deployment is caused by a lack of “blueprints” and mature standards for the implementation of NFV. With the architecture being taken into considerations, the breadth and the number of distinct components make it challenging to design, build and support. It is essential to integrate NFV into already-existing network architectures.
Despite a lot of apprehension, NFV will be able to deliver high-performance networks with greater scalability, elasticity, and adaptability at reduced costs compared to networks built from traditional networking equipment over time. New network requirements such as Internet of Things, 5G and SD-WAN ensure the drive of NFV, but it also covers a wide range of network applications.
Is the NFV hype justified?
It is common in the telecoms sector for new technologies to generate a lot of hype from analysts and media commentators alike, but there has been continuous uncertainty about NFV. It is no wonder that there is mounting frustration, there has been no real completion and NFV is in its fifth year since its introduction as a revolutionary technology.
More than 90% of service providers have said that their company is not on schedule with deployment for NFV. Even with these statistics, a lot of service providers still see benefits surrounding virtualisation. To them, increased network agility, shorter time to market and the creation of new services and revenue streams, are too good of an opportunity to miss.
Why service providers must be rational and take a measured view
With NFV service providers must work towards improving the network performance and reliability and ensure that they have the ability to integrate existing operational and billing systems with legacy network architectures. To successfully deploy this, service providers must adopt a virtualised signaling gateway solution to integrate the old with the new.
They need to ensure that they maximise the return of investment in their networks and are keeping TDM equipment in service – particularly the end-node voice switches. A gateway can deliver the scalability, flexibility, throughput, and performance to manage the convergence and growth of networks while maintaining legacy TDM SS7 connections and infrastructure. This reduces the total cost of ownership of legacy equipment and enables the seamless transition to new IP-based networks.
NFV proves clear benefits not just to costing, but also bolsters efficiency and adaptability. No one can deny that the ongoing uncertainty surrounding NFV has affected the speed of its implementation. If the benefits of NFV are to be realised it is important that service providers do not get distracted by the build-up, and persevere with their deployment schedule.
The author of this blog is Robin Kent, director of European operations, Adax