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BLOG: SDN, NFV creeping into provider networks

Jim Duffy | July 16, 2013
All plan to evalute or deploy in next 3 years, study finds

Network operators are starting small with their SDN and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) deployments, containing them to parts of the network where they can evaluate performance before rolling it out, according to Infonetics Research. The market research firm recently surveyed global service providers, representing 53% of worldwide telecom capital spending, to determine the timing and priority of SDN and NFV implementations.

Infonetics found that most are isolating SDN and NFV projects to "contained domains" of their networks to kick the tires before widespread deployment. Despite the cautious testbeds, momentum for SDN and NFV is strong, Infonetics reports, as the majority of operators participating in the survey plan to deploy the technologies in the core, aggregation and customer access tiers of their networks.

But that might take a while. Infonetics believes it will still be "many years" before SDN controls larger operator domains or a whole service provider network.

Interest in SDN and NFV is being driven by demands for operational efficiency and quicker turn up of revenue generating services. Study participants rated content delivery networks (CDNs), IP multimedia subsystems, and virtual routers/security gateways as the top applications for NFV, Infonetics found.

The top 5 network domains targeted by operators are: within data centers; between data centers; operations and management; CDNs; and cloud services.  Eighty-six percent of surveyed operators also plan to deploy SDN and NFV technology in their optical transport networks as well, once standards are finalized, Infonetics found.

Infonetics' 27-page SDN and NFV survey, released this month, is based on interviews with 21 incumbent, competitive and independent wireless operators from Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and North America. Virtually all major operators are either evaluating SDNs now or plan to do so within the next three years.


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