Three Key Issues with Integrating SDN/NFV and How Service Providers Can Solve Them

The market is lining up to solve these issues, and different groups of players are taking on key roles
The industry is making progress on pulling these elements together, but it’s a long evolution of processes, not a revolution.

3) Lack of mature standards. Standards, or a lack thereof, have been the downfall of many vendors and products across the history of communications networks. In the case of SDN/NFV, service providers who wanted to move full-steam ahead with their initiatives, such as AT&T and Telefónica,were forced to forge their own path, while China Mobile is relying on more of an open-source approach to deployment.

Frequently, service providers are forcing the need for standards based on their veracious appetite for the benefits SDN and NFV deployments can bring across their business: reduced costs, greater efficiency and rapid innovation. At the same time, however, there is great need to future-proof their deployment roadmaps, and only common standards that are open and interoperable can accomplish that.  

Even though the industry has been talking about SDN for years, no clear standards have emerged to guide the integration process. However, the industry is moving closer, with groups like the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), ETSI, MEF, TMForum, and others each have done significant work to push standards closer to completion, which will be a very welcome sight for providers looking to advance their initiatives more efficiently.

The market is lining up to solve these issues, and different groups of players are taking on key roles:

  • Operators are looking to coordinate between existing OSS systems and new MANO systems for the virtualized infrastructure;
  • Software vendors are trying to position themselves as an overarching orchestration layer sitting on top of the MANO and traditional OSS;
  • Hardware vendors are developing MANO solutions and are trying to move up the stack; and
  • Consultants are developing BSS/OSS transformation approaches that support the incremental adoption of SDN.

NFV and SDN are being seen as the first layer as service providers undergo digital transformation, where a more open, flexible architecture includes tools and capabilities such as data analytics and automation. James Crawshaw, senior analyst at analyst firm Heavy Reading, sums up the role of OSS in network transformation quite nicely: “Widespread adoption of NFV will only happen when robust management, orchestration, and OSS architectures are defined and implemented. Operators that seek to implement NFV without preparing their OSS to support it are unlikely to be successful in capturing the new revenue-generating and cost-saving opportunities that NFV promises. OSS should not be an afterthought; it will continue to be central to the operational efficiency and agility of the service provider.”


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