Do you remember the old process of purchasing computer software programs? It consisted of going to a physical computer retail store, buying a CD and bringing it home for installation. The process is obviously much different today, as a few clicks in a digital app store can achieve the same purpose in real time.
Back then, it was sometimes a challenge for software developers to get products to market because publishers acted as gatekeepers, determining which programs would receive investment and, thus, make it to retail store shelves. The software market was a complex landscape for buyers and developers alike—that is, until broadband showed up.
The internet turned the software publishing and distribution business on its head. Now we have access to a vast digital marketplace that brings together sellers and buyers, making it easier for developers to come up with new ideas, bring them to market and connect with end users.
The same kind of revolution is happening in the communications industry as network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies gain traction. Using network virtualization allows service providers to introduce new products and services dynamically and on demand. NFV also helps decouple hardware from services, which reduces dependency on product roadmaps associated with traditional equipment manufacturers.
When NFV is in play, virtual network functions (VNFs) are not specialized switches or blades in a server, but are more like apps; they’re pieces of software. This makes software product development cycles faster, allowing service providers to bring new services to market more quickly than ever before.
This speed to market is critical for today's service providers, as the inability to deliver innovative, personalized offerings in a timely manner will hinder their ability to compete. Service providers need a digital marketplace that connects virtualized, software-based products and services with potential buyers, customers and partners. Because traditional, monolithic back-office IT systems are not agile enough to support these capabilities, NFV presents a real business opportunity.
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