Network functions virtualization (NFV) would be deployed faster by service providers if they didn’t feel like they would be left holding the bag when problems arise with the virtual network functions (VNFs).
Often, when service providers ask incumbent suppliers for VNFs, suppliers merely produce virtualized versions of existing boxes, writes Aloke Tusnial, VP of global sales SDN/NFV with Netcracker, in a corporate blog posting. “But now the risks of implementing VNFs and ensuring their orchestration with the rest of the network comprised of both legacy hardware and virtualized software fall entirely on the shoulders of service providers,” he writes.
When there’s a problem with a network device, the service provider knows whom to call. But with software, it’s not so clear. Even non-technical consumers know this. When their computer has a problem, whom should they call: the manufacturer of the computer, the operating system provider, their network provider? Do these providers even have accessible phone numbers?
Tusnial argues that service providers need a prime systems integrator that will assume the risk and troubleshoot VNF problems. And, of course, Netcracker is standing by to fill that role.
“NFV is too vast and complex for most service providers to implement alone,” he writes. “There are operational and organizational challenges that service providers may not be able to identify or overcome on their own.”
But perhaps service providers also need a cultural revolution.
I’ve heard some vendors in the industry, who wish to remain anonymous, say that service providers are caught between the old world and the new. In the old, network reliability measured by five nines is everything. If network engineers don’t deliver five nines, somebody’s going to lose their job.
Now, these same engineers are being asked to implement VNFs to make the network more agile. But their reward system hasn’t changed. They still get rewarded for five nines and for meeting service level agreements (SLAs). They must be wondering if they’ll be rewarded for increased network agility, or just punished for diminished reliability.
Vendors should keep these cultural concerns in mind. But they, too, may be reticent to promise five nines for their latest VNFs. They don’t want to be left holding the bag, either.
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