Graham Moore Graham Moore Product Director - Telsis

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NFV and SDN: the future of service delivery

  • Historically, telephony networks were based around TDM systems running on custom hardware. More recently, the move to IP-based technologies has allowed networks to move away from customised or proprietary equipment and instead adopt standardised server technology.


    NFV SDN TelsisWhile network operators gained from this move in terms of reduced hardware costs and increased performance, the siloed approach to deploying systems still offered inefficiencies. Some servers were only lightly loaded, whereas others struggled to cope with the demands placed on them during busy periods. This led to increased costs – each server has a latent power requirement, even when it’s idle – and poor customer service during peak periods as some systems struggled to cope.


    Architectures such as NFV and SDN now enable network operators to overcome many of these limitations by putting a layer of abstraction between the network services and the routing of data to those services, and the physical hardware that runs the services.


    Rather than having silos of hardware for different services, these services are deployed across a global pool of hardware. The benefits of this can be huge.


    Perhaps the biggest benefit of NFV and SDN implementations is the cost savings that can be made. Telefonica expects to save around a third of its operating expenses as part of its UNICA project (1), while Krish Prabhu, president of AT&T Labs, estimates that the US carrier will see opex savings in the region of 40% to 50% (2). For companies facing downward pricing pressure, these savings can be critical for maintaining their profitability.


    However, it’s not all about cost reduction. There are also advantages in terms of resilience and scalability. Since the service is no longer tied to a particular piece of physical hardware, the service can be migrated elsewhere in the unlikely event of a hardware failure – providing increased service resilience. If increased capacity is required, the service can be scaled up to consume additional server resources.


    Such agility is valuable to network operators as it improves the user experience of their customers, who experience fewer outages and a better overall quality of service.


    Of course, moving to a new architecture is not always straightforward for operators, since many of their bespoke services are still integrated with their legacy systems. They must decide which services that need to maintain, and which services are not viable to migrate.


    The new economic realities mean that it is no longer feasible to ask major network infrastructure providers to carry out significant customisations to their platforms or to create bespoke services for an operator. Instead, operators need to buy standard platforms and off-the-shelf services.


    In order to offer other services and differentiate in the market, operators need to look for agile service layer platforms that support flexible service creation and deployment. Such platforms allow for the rapid development of new services as well as continuity of existing services.


    By deploying service layer solutions, operators are able to benefit from the cost reduction, resilience and scalability advantages of NFV and SDN whilst also providing new customer focused services that allow them to differentiate and secure new revenues.

    (1)Telefónica Unveils Aggressive NFV Plans

    (2)AT&T Foresees Opex Savings from SDN and NFV of 40% to 50%

    Graham Moore
    About Graham Moore Graham Moore works as Product Director at Telsis
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