Rapid growth in the network functions virtualization (NFV) market wouldn’t be a surprise. What’s eyebrow-raising about a recent study is the fact that the NFV market, by at least one definition, is pretty large already.
Given that NFV is starting out, and considering groups such as OPNFV are still working to build a full NFV implementation — where’s that $2.3 billion coming from?
Network functions such as firewalls have been getting virtualized in various forms for years, but it shouldn’t all count as “NFV.” For Infonetics, the distinction is that NFV’s functions have to be hypervisor-capable. And there are, indeed, a few functions that are well down that curve — deep packet inspection (DPI) and the policy and charging rules function (PCRF) being two, says Infonetics analyst Michael Howard.
Counted as one category, they’re the biggest contributor to the $2.3 billion NFV market today, Howard tells SDxCentral.
The latter category is the most rarified, and it hasn’t been perfected to a point that you’d call a standard. But vendors are selling software that could count as NFV MANO or a virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM) — Howard cited Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, HP, IBM, and VMware off the top of his head, and there are probably more. (He also believed Ericsson had something in the works that might be productized at this point; we’ll have to check.)
Along the same lines, Howard’s estimate doesn’t take into account whether the VNFs are being operated under some sort of VIM or MANO — in other words, we don’t know whether they’re really part of an organized NFV effort. There’s no way to tell.
But the point is that the movement of network functions into software is already making vendors money — and was doing so before the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) defined NFV in a white paper two years ago. “It came from the carriers saying, ‘We want more of this. We don’t just want software firewalls,'” Howard says.