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The Path to NFV Assured in Increasingly Competitive World of Networking

August 25, 2016

There can no longer be any doubt about the direction in which networking is headed. We have hyperscale data centers cropping up all over the globe, massive fiber optic cables being laid on the floors of our oceans and an explosive number of mobile subscribers consuming services and data at a breakneck place. The networking world is undergoing a revolution and network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) are changing the landscape from the data center to the enterprise.

The benefits of virtualization are well known, enabling flexibility, scalability and centralized management and control at levels previously unthought-of of. The ecosystem for NFV and SDN is expected to bring in $18 billion in revenues by 2020, growing at a ridiculously aggressive 46 percent CAGR. And whereas NFV and SDN were once concepts relegated to giant data centers and their networks, they’ve been making their way into the mainstream enterprise thanks to the cost savings and scalability of SD-WAN solutions and services.

“NFV promises to revolutionize carrier networks by providing communications service providers (CSPs) with unprecedented flexibility in how they deploy and manage network equipment and services,” Jegan Arthanari, head of worldwide field engineering organization at Wind River, told Wind River, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel, specializes in delivering software within the IoT space. “The NFV server’s building block approach results in shorter development cycles and improved operational efficiencies because of the commonality of tools and increased network management automation.”

Of course, while companies like Intel, Cisco, Google, Microsoft and Oracle are cheering on NFV development and solutions by participating in collaborative groups like the NFV Forum, the technology is not without its challenges. Arthanari pointed out that service providers have massive investments in legacy infrastructure and systems along with embedded software, necessitating a multi-phased approach to NFV.

Even so, the path to NFV is pretty much a given for service providers that want to stay competitive in the evolving world of networking. It is now a question of how long it will take the major players to convert, and who will get there first.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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