As we enter 2015 industry participants and experts are expecting to see significant advances in software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV), as many enterprises look to achieve improved efficiencies and capabilities from their cloud infrastructure.
Karl Horne, CTO Asia Pacific, Ciena, outlines his predictions for top enterprise networking trends that will likely emerge in 2015.
1. Network function virtualisation gets real
NFV is expected to yield very real benefits: it reduces the hardware, power, and space requirements to deploy network functions on industry-standard high-volume servers, switches and storage; it reduces provisioning times; it makes the applications portable and upgradeable with software; and so on. NFV represents a bold step toward programmable, agile networks.
To date, enterprises have been cautious in recognising the business benefits of NFV, while service providers have been relatively slow in adopting this new technology. However as the technology gains maturity, in 2015 we will see more and more enterprises understanding the business benefits of NFV, rather than purely what it means for network improvements, and we expect significant momentum from service providers deploying NFV-based managed servicessolutions. As a result, NFV will become an integral part of operations.
For example, an enterprise can use an NFV platform to order and schedule a secure cloud service to process data, such as end-of-quarter orders. With NFV, the service provider network can be provisioned, delivered, managed, torn down and billed - all based on automated software programming.
We are already seeing the beginnings of this trend with massive industrialised companies building out cloud-based networks.
2. Early adoption of NFV for "high-touch" services
After migrating their computing and storage resource to virtualised network platforms, tech-savvy, bold enterprises will start demonstrating the beginnings of an associated trend in 2015: the first stages of migrating enterprise services to NFV platforms.
At this stage enterprise IT departments will start to feel the very real benefits of NFV as they gain tremendous flexibility and agility in provisioning "high-touch" services such as routing, firewallsor encryption suites based on business needs. These services are traditionally delivered via dedicated pieces of hardware and software that sit either on-premise at the enterprises itself or at the service provider's central facility, incurring significant capital and operational costs from the associated space, power, cooling, and management requirements.
At early-adopter enterprises NFV will start to take over some of these functions in 2015, through software that will run on commodity services and virtual machines. Similar to virtualisation for computing and storage resources, the cost benefits of moving to NFV are tremendous.
3. Emergence of consumption-model for networking/connectivity
Enterprises are already familiar with the "consumption-model" for compute and storage resources from cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace and others. Recent years have seen a significant increase in the adoption of these pay-as-you-use resources. The pay-only-when-you-use economic model is tremendously attractive and is already proving its ROI value by dramatically reducingIT costs for enterprises.
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