August 20, 2015

Operationalizing NFV – Organizational Alignment Will Ensure Operator Success

NFV represents an evolutionary and revolutionary leap that will cut across divisions and departments while significantly changing corporate culture.

The introduction of NFV into service providers networks signals a massive sea change not only for the network itself but also for the mindset of the individuals charged with making the migration. The last significant shift for telco networks was the transition from circuit-switched to IP, but the move towards virtualization is seen as the biggest disruptor in the history of communications networks.

Bring on the Buy-In
Much of the discussion surrounding NFV has been in areas such as standards, optimization of virtual network functions, how to enable new revenue streams, ensuring OSS systems can work well with MANO and more, but what hasn’t been included to a large extent is getting support and buy-in from all across the organization. And this is where the conversation really should begin, because NFV will turn communications networks on their heads and require a rethink in how the networks themselves will be designed, deployed and managed.

Previous network changes, such as the move to IP, have largely consisted of overlay deployments to the existing architecture, but in the case of NFV, a fundamental shift is taking place throughout network and operational stacks in an extremely disruptive manner. This will require support from a wide range of internal departments and stakeholders and the need to ensure alignment across the organization so that everyone achieves their objectives without hindering anyone else’s efforts.

Realignment from the Top Down
NFV represents an evolutionary and revolutionary leap that will cut across divisions and departments while significantly changing corporate culture.  Going all the way up to the C-suite, the differing goals and objectives within the offices of the CTO, CIO, CFO and CMO should be addressed very early in the process.

There could even be changes within those roles and their groups as the CIO and IT become more critical in a software-driven world, and the CTO looks at new technologies and how they will impact customers.

To prevent setbacks and delays that could slow NFV adoption, organizations should consider creating a dedicated department that focuses on the bigger picture of the NFV business case. A centralized strategy will create a unified view of NFV efforts across the business so that all departments and groups are on the same page and know how they will be affected even if they are not directly involved in a particular step along the virtualization path.

Unfortunately, most operators have not made this organizational alignment a priority, choosing instead to launch transformation programs without the benefit of visibility across departmental and divisional lines in their rush to get on board the virtualization train. But this rush can quickly turn to a crawl if all affected parties aren’t involved in the various stages.

For example, many operators have rolled out proofs of concept (PoC) within their organizations to get a close look at what NFV can do for them. But if all parties with a vested interest in the PoC and its outcome aren’t on board, going from this stage to operationalization in a real-world setting will be next to impossible.

Keeping the Lines of Communication Open
The shift to NFV will be so dramatic that without cooperation and collaboration throughout the process–one that can take years as operators first move to a hybrid environment before shifting to an all-virtual one–it will be that much harder to reach the operationalization phase.

But if everyone from the CEO’s office down the org chart is involved from the beginning, and clear plans are drawn up to educate and inform all stakeholders about the organization’s NFV strategy, service providers will be able to make their transformation a reality and deliver new and innovative services to customers while realizing their goals of a more agile, cost efficient and streamlined business.


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