20 November 2017
Despite a clear desire to virtualise networks and shift to cloud-based technology, communication service Providers (CSPs) are facing serious roadblocks along the way.
Specialist consulting firm Cartesian says progress is being “hampered by a lack of technical maturity and operational issues that have proven to be even harder than many expected”.
In its recently published Future of Networks report, the company says it carried out more than 40 interview and surveyed more than 100 decision-makers from telecoms vendors, system integrators and CSPs.
Fifty two per cent of respondents agree that the amount of operational change required to move to a virtualised network is “overwhelming”. Cartesian says this is being driven by a range of factors.
For example, it says having to manage multi-vendor systems is creating a “huge amount of complexity”, as is the need to maintain a hybrid environment throughout a long transition period.
Furthermore in many cases, Cartesian says the introduction of NFV/SDN requires entirely new operating plans for end-to-end service management. It reckons this means operational processes need to be either changed or re-made from scratch.
As a result, and as noted by an interviewee, the industry has fallen into a “trough of disillusionment” and must redouble efforts if the true potential of virtualisation is to be fulfilled.
“Despite the excitement around NFV and SDN, CSPs face a mammoth task,” says Dr. Steve Upton, SVP of networks and operations consulting at Cartesian.
“The operational complexity associated with any network transformation shouldn’t be underestimated and businesses are realising that there is still plenty of work to be done.” Despite all the challenges, the firm adds that NFV and SDN technologies have made “significant progress” in recent years and are “undoubtedly the future”.
For example, 69 per cent of respondents agreed that network operators who do not virtualise will struggle to compete, and nearly three-quarters said operators must implement NFV/SDN in order to meet future customer needs.
CSPs also cited capex and opex savings, increases in operational efficiencies, and the creation of new services and revenue streams in the future as key business drivers.
Upton recommends several steps operators and CSPs can take to make their virtualisation and cloud migrations easier.
“They should start by creating a comprehensive plan for NFV/SDN deployment, and be sure to employ partners with the expertise to guide them through the process.
“The industry also has a role to play, as greater standardisation and multi-vendor integration would go a long way towards helping operators along their virtualisation journeys.”