If true, it would be a remarkably fast move for the notoriously cautious carrier industry, coming less than three years after the first formal definition of NFV in a 2012 white paper from the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
“Over the past 12 months, we have seen a marked shift in industry sentiment around NFV,” Shin Umeda, the report author and vice president at Dell’Oro, said in a statement. “We are seeing signs that some very large projects will start ramping in the next 12 months.”
Alcatel-Lucent, to cite one vendor example, claims roughly 30 engagements for its CloudBand NFV platform, about “half a dozen” of which are in production. “The pace at which people are moving from proof-of-concept to production has dramatically accelerated,” says Bhaskar Gorti, AlcaLu’s president of IP platforms.
Thus far, live deployments NFV deployments have been cautious and small scale, industry experts say.
Jane Rygaard, Nokia’s head of customer experience management for core and OSS, says only a “couple” of telco clients have taken the plunge into production.
Speaking to SDxCentral last week at the NFV World Congress in San Jose, Rygaard said those initial deployments have so far been limited to moving a single virtual network function onto a dedicated piece of hardware — an approach that hardly takes advantage of NFV’s full range of possibilities. “It’s been one function on one setup,” she says.
When large deployments start, they may come hard and heavy. “Right now, a lot of people are looking around to see if someone else will go first,” Rygaard says. “They’d all really like to be second though.”
The first wave of NFV could be even more of a learning experience than anticipated, though.
Power efficiency, latency, and performance could all end up disappointing as carriers’ NFV work reaches the real world, says Robert Monkman, enterprise segment marketing manager at ARM.
“My personal belief is that deployment is still next year in any real volume,” Monkman says. “We’re about to go through a reality check.”
“It’s just a matter of going through this hard, not-so-sexy, tough work of getting it to stand up,” Monkman says.
With additional reporting by Craig Matsumoto.