Network Virtualization Getting Real (Sort Of)

Heavy Reading released The Future of Virtualization Index Report this week giving a readout on the network virtualization evolution across three dimensions: planning, deploying, and investment status. Planning is in full swing, but deployments are rare. Cloud-sourced NFV can accelerate that actualization.

The good news: NFV isn’t vendor hype as 94% of service providers surveyed have started to identify the functions they plan to virtualize by 2020.

The rub: it’s pen-to-paper time at present and not actualizing all the benefits in changing the approach to networking. Just 10% have started development work on most or all of the high-priority functions.

This large difference in planning and doing is not unreasonable given the changes that virtualization will bring across vendors, employee skills, and operating models.

Some applications can wait and some cannot. We think voice is in that latter camp given the challenging market—competition, peak telephony, shifting regulations, margin pressure—and the obsolete, aging, costly infrastructure that voice is riding on today.

But as Heavy Reading and other firms (e.g., see Tom Nolle in Why is the NFV Business Case So Hard) have previously reported, the business case remains challenging. In this latest Heavy Reading report less than 12% of service provider respondents expect virtualization to result in lower operating expenses in the next two years. Plus it demands CAPEX. We question whether NFV done the traditional way will ever truly lower the total cost of ownership.

Fortunately, NFV-based solutions can be sourced from the cloud. We believe (and can demonstrate) that this is dramatically easier, available now (not 2020), and consumed via a success-based business model that is also at a much lower cost than the traditional build-integrate-operate model. This cloud-based approach accelerates the virtualization doing and realizing of the agility, scale, and cost reduction benefits.

I’ve written about that approach in our blog (see Two Paths to NFV VoIP: Building and Cloud Sourcing) and it’s one that has garnered a number of industry awards in 2015.

Read more in our white paper Cloud Sourcing NFV VoIP.