data center2014 will be a pivotal year for software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), technologies that computing and telecommunications industry participants believe may hold the keys to cost-effectively increasing network capacity and performance amidst burgeoning data demand and network traffic, according to excerpts from an Infonetics Research report to be released April 3.

“This is the year that SDN and NFV move from the lab to field trials. Many carriers are in the process of moving from SDN/NFV proof-of-concept projects to working with vendors in the development and ‘productization’ of software that will become the basis for commercial deployments,” co-founder and principal analyst for carrier networks at Infonetics Michael Howard was quoted in a press release.

“I saw a lot of this software running in demos in vendor and operator stands at the recent Mobile World Congress, and it’s easy to see it is much more real this year.”

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According to the excerpt from Infonetics’ 2014 “SDN and NFV Strategies: Global Services Provider Survey”:

  • 29% of survey participants are currently implementing SDNs, and 52% plan to evaluate SDNs by the end of 2014
  • Nearly every operator Infonetics surveyed plans to deploy SDN (97%) or NFV (93%) in some aspect of their network at some point
    • A majority of respondents are targeting the MPLS backbone core and cloud services for SDN first, then multilayer transport
  • Survey respondents rated business vE-CPE (using NFV for the delivery of services to businesses/enterprises) the #1 use case overall for NFV in 2014–2015; business vE-CPE is also ranked the top use case for revenue generation
  • Meanwhile, back office OSS/BSS was cited as the biggest barrier to deploying NFV by respondents
  • Telecom and data center equipment vendors are well positioned to take considerable market share in SDN/NFV, with virtually all respondents stating they are likely to buy from the major vendors
  • As carriers expect to eventually reduce spending on telecom hardware and software, a good way for vendors to increase revenue is by beefing up integration services to meet customers’ needs and expectations

“Over the coming months, a few operators will move to actual commercial deployments, mostly specific NFV use cases, but only a few,” Howard continued. “It won’t be until 2015 that we’ll see commercial deployments kick into motion, still most likely on a limited basis, as operators put one or two use cases to the test under real world conditions, in their live networks.”

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