Now that software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) are starting to be deployed in major operator networks, many are now turning their attention to the commercialization of NFV and SDN. In fact, there are many panel discussions at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress that are devoted to just that topic.
According to Ari Banerjee, senior director of strategy at Netcracker, many operators have started to virtualize some of the functions in their networks, but that’s not enough. Now the focus is turning to provisioning the service and making money. “How do you make this function part of your catalog of services? How do you make it part of the rating and billing system?” he asked.
Banerjee added that while many operators are still figuring out the orchestration of these services, they are also anxious to make money from them. And although NFV can be a powerful tool for their customers, most providers are not clear on how to structure their business models to make money from these new services that are enabled by SDN and NFV.
Commercialization is part of the natural maturation of SDN and NFV, says Manish Singh, vice president of product management for SDN and NFV at Tech Mahindra. “Are we getting past the ideation stage and moving to real trials and deployments at scale?” he asked. “It’s now about commercialization.”
But Singh added that there are some challenges when it comes to the various open source options. “Is the market too segmented with too many open source solutions?” he asked, noting that virtual network function (VNF) vendors are finding it difficult to support all the various combinations.
He also expects to hear a lot of discussion at the show about the implementation of SDN on enterprise networks with services like software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) and virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE). “Enterprises are aware that they need more bang for their buck when it comes to networking,” he said. “Fortune 500 companies want to know how to get more efficient about their networking.”