SDN and NFV enter carrier trial phase says Infonetics

Market research firm Infonetics Research reports that nearly every operator questioned as part of its 2014 survey on software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) plans to deploy SDN (97%) or NFV (93%) in some aspect of their network at some point.

Market research firm Infonetics Research reports that nearly every operator questioned as part of its 2014 survey on software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) plans to deploy SDN (97%) or NFV (93%) in some aspect of their network at some point.

Leading operators – representing 51% of worldwide telecom capex – were interviewed to determine the timing and priority of the many use cases for their SDN and NFV projects. Infonetics reports that 29% of survey participants are currently implementing SDNs, and 52% plan to evaluate SDNs by the end of 2014.

"This is the year that SDN and NFV move from the lab to field trials," notes Michael Howard, co-founder and principal analyst for carrier networks at Infonetics Research. "Many carriers are in the process of moving from SDN/NFV proof-of-concept projects to working with vendors in the development and 'productization' of software that will become the basis for commercial deployments. I saw a lot of this software running in demos in vendor and operator stands at the recent Mobile World Congress, and it's easy to see it is much more real this year."

Howard added, "Over the coming months, a few operators will move to actual commercial deployments, mostly specific NFV use cases, but only a few. It won't be until 2015 that we'll see commercial deployments kick into motion, still most likely on a limited basis, as operators put one or two use cases to the test under real world conditions, in their live networks."

Once commercial deployments get underway, the market for SDN and NFV could become substantial. Infonetics recently forecast that it would be worth $3 billion in just a few years’ time (see “Data center and enterprise SDN market to exceed $3 billion by 2017 says Infonetics”).

A majority of respondents are targeting the MPLS backbone core and cloud services for SDN first, then multilayer transport.

Survey respondents rated business vE-CPE (using NFV for the delivery of services to businesses/enterprises) the number one use case overall for NFV in 2014-2015; business vE-CPE is also ranked the top use case for revenue generation.

Meanwhile, back office OSS/BSS was cited as the biggest barrier to deploying NFV by respondents

Telecom and data center equipment vendors are well positioned to take considerable market share in SDN/NFV, according to Infonetics, with virtually all respondents stating they are likely to buy from the major vendors. As carriers expect to eventually reduce spending on telecom hardware and software, a good way for vendors to increase revenue is by beefing up integration services to meet customers' needs and expectations, the market research firm says.

Infonetics' 35-page report “SDN and NFV Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey” is based on interviews with purchase-decision makers at 31 incumbent, competitive, independent wireless, and cable operators from EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa), Asia Pacific, and North America that have evaluated SDN projects or plan to do so. Infonetics asked operators about their strategies and timing for SDN and NFV, including deployment drivers and barriers, target domains and use cases, and suppliers.

For more information on high-speed transmission systems and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer’s Guide.

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