April 29, 2016

My Top 5 NFV World Congress Takeaways

Now that NFV World Congress 2016 is wrapped up, here are some of the show's primary messages being relayed in the industry; the future looks promising.

NFV World Congress and SDN & OpenFlow World Congress are the main global forums for software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). Having just returned from my fifth conference in this series, and my first as part of the NEC/Netcracker team, I was thrilled to see the tremendous momentum and adoption of SDN/NFV across the industry.

NEC/Netcracker kicked off this year’s NFV World Congress with its workshop, “Is Your Business Ready to Move Forward with SDN/NFV?” Presentations on how to move forward with operations, business and organizational challenges provoked some lively discussions among the assembled network operators and analysts. Those conversations spilled over to the dinner that followed and came up again over the next few days at the show.

Here are my five takeaways from this year’s NFV World Congress:

  1. Industry leaders announced aggressive plans to scale their cloud networks and accelerate the adoption of SDN and NFV. AT&T announced plans to get to up to 105 of its data centers integrated into the cloud by year’s end.  Meanwhile, NTT Docomo, building on the successful commercial launch of vEPC with NEC and Cisco, indicated that it would virtualize 75 percent of its network by 2020.
  2. Cable companies are embracing SDN/NFV in a big way. Cable service providers were well represented with delegates from Comcast, Charter, Cox, Time Warner Cable, Rogers and CableLabs including a keynote by Nagesh Nandiraju, Comcast’s director of network architecture. Also, CableLabs announced an interoperability lab open to all service providers and all vendors.
  3. DevOps and Agile are all the rage. Matt Bateman, Senior Network Architect at XO Communications, described how NFV prompted XO’s to turn to DevOps. Additionally, Otto Fonseca, Director of Core Networks Planning and Engineering at TELUS, and Vasile Radoaca, CTO of NEC/Netcracker’s SDN/NFV Division, were among several keynotes discussing the role of Agile development in strategy, technology, operations and economics. The industry seems to finally be embracing the Web-scale way of creating technologies and doing business.
  4. The mix in roles of the conference’s delegates clearly indicated that companies are serious about SDN/NFV. In 2013 and 2014, the representation at SDN/NFV tradeshows was predominantly from CTO offices—last year the majority of attendees represented technology and engineering organizations. This year’s show, by contrast, had a strong representation from operations, product management and even sales teams.
  5. Conversations shifted from “how to deploy” to “how to monetize.” Discussions with the operators that stopped by the NEC/Netcracker booth to view our residential and enterprise vCPE demonstrations wanted to understand how to launch new services quickly. There are two things indicating that service providers are closer to monetization: They want to know how to integrate services into their current BSS and how to deal with virtualized network function (VNF) licensing in dynamic network environments. 

The conversations, of course, don’t stop there. We’ll be at TM Forum Live! in Nice, France, next week helping even more service providers take the next step forward to commercializing SDN/NFV.


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