“Promises about the agility simply haven’t come about yet,” he said. “Hardware vendors have not made it easy to realize that potential. We’re halfway through what most people would consider the adoption of NFV and we have yet to achieve the promise.”
Watson said when Masergy first began working with virtual network functions it was “promised” that the company could break even with one VNF. “You have to have 2.2 VNFs to break even,” he said. “If you can’t deploy 2.2 VNFs it’s not even worth sending out the equipment.” He later clarified that he was referring to commercial VNFs.
Clerget said NFV promised Opex reductions, but in reality universal CPEs are more expensive. “Now we have this uCPE from a vendor selling hardware, then virtual infrastructure from another vendor, then VNFs from other vendors. How do you expect that to be cheap? I think we should focus on the short run on bringing new user experiences.”
Watson added, “We had inflated expectations” because the promise was vendors could easily obtain commodity hardware and “throw some VNFs on it and it would make money.” But in reality, “hardware vendors brought us Xeon processors, etc., that were way too expensive.” He said eventually Masergy found a good hardware solution with ADVA that was economically viable.
James Feger, VP and general manager of F5’s service provider business, spoke with SDxCentral at the event. He said, “The service providers we work with today recognize that networks are becoming application delivery networks,” and he said F5’s pedigree positions it to help providers pivot to NFV.
Feger acknowledged the complaints about NFV taking too long to see a return on investment. “The complexity that came along with NFV was a bit underestimated,” he said. “Also, you ended up with some cultural impacts. A big challenge to the adoption of new technologies is you have to overcome your own culture to get the technology adopted and supported. It only takes a couple of naysayers to derail. Second, your customer has to believe in that technology.”
He said F5 is working with its service provider customers to create deployable packages and solutions, and it’s working with the customers to understand their end goals.