On The Espousal of SDNs and NFV by Enterprises

By CIOReview | Wednesday, February 19, 2014
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FREMONT, CA: The taking on of SDNs by enterprises is lagging that of service providers due to several factors but prima facie obstacle is the precarious nature of the network itself. While network is business for service providers, for enterprises, the same network facilitates their core businesses. However, service provider universe of Software Defined Networking /Network Functions Virtualization is much larger than that of the enterprise.

Services are the most vital ingredient for service provider’s business. SDNs and NFV are deemed to be the key in enabling service providers to quickly create and provision new revenue yielding services. While SDN virtualizes the network infrastructure, NFV virtualizes network services, like load balancing, mobile core applications, deep packet inspection, application acceleration, WAN optimization, session boarder controllers, and firewalls and VPNs by eliminating dedicated appliances and running those functions as virtual machines on x86 servers.

On the other hand, enterprises thrive by manufacturing products or offering services to sell. The network and its applications assist and support the same.  Lee Doyle, Principal Analyst at Doyle Research opines, “Service providers are turning over their data centers a lot faster and pushing the envelope.  Enterprises are a little more cautious and have slower refresh cycles.”

Enterprises are nonetheless taking action which seems suitable to them. Like AT&T, American multinational telecommunications corporation is currently reviewing Request For Information (RFI) documents from vendors on their strategy to embrace SDN and NFV in their products and product architectures to align with AT&T's Domain 2.0 virtualization strategy. Google is using OpenFlow to interconnect 12 worldwide data centers over 10G links. And Verizon sees OpenFlow as a standard way to implement SDNs across multivendor equipment.

“I think there are a smaller number of players that are more organized in the service provider world,” says Cliff Grossner, directing analyst for data center and cloud at Infonetics. “They’re much more highly focused on a select set of use cases. I don’t think they have the same focused environment in the enterprise side.”

Studies in the industry bring out few interesting observations. While ACG found that cloud and application data centers will be the busiest of four service provider domains–data center, IP edge, metro and core amounting to 50 percent of SDN sales into live deployments, Infonetics found the top network domains targeted by operators for SDN and NFV to be: data centers; operations and management; CDNs; and cloud services. Also according to Infonetics, 86 percent of surveyed operators also plan to deploy SDN and NFV technology in their optical transport networks as well, once standards are finalized.

The dynamics behind all of this will be virtualization and consumer enthusiasm for media and entertainment, social networking, Internet of Things, and cloud IT/application hosting. The top revenue generating services, that drive service providers to embrace SDN are cloud-based IT and applications, content and entertainment delivery, machine-to-machine applications, and managed services for business and individual users reports Jim Duffy for Networkworld.