In order to bring network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) into production, service providers need the right partners.
The right partners for SDN/NFV are companies that not only have excellent technology platforms, but also have the ability to help service providers operationalize SDN/NFV – helping the service provider manage and integrate existing and virtualized network operations and create Agile development environments to support both IT and network requirements.
Each of the three big trends that are shaping the communications industry today—cloud services, network virtualization and the internet of things (IoT)—offer significant benefits to service providers by promising new revenue opportunities, simplified operations or reduced costs. But for service providers to realize these benefits in full, they need more from their suppliers than just strong technology. Because technology is arguably the easy part, service providers must consider other criteria.
In the case of cloud services, for example, choosing a partner is not just about which cloud platform a prospective partner can provide. Service providers must consider which independent software vendors (ISVs) have been integrated into the cloud platform and which services can be launched and monetized quickly. Another key consideration: How many relationships has a prospective partner established with virtual network function (VNF) providers or IoT businesses to support a variety of business models?
When it comes to evaluating partners for network virtualization, decisions should not depend solely on the specific VNFs that are available, but also on how the supplier can tie VNFs to the service provider’s legacy back-office systems and how well the partner can orchestrate hybrid environments comprised of traditional and virtualized systems. The right partner for NFV can help monetize new virtualized services by providing on-demand configuration capabilities that allow customers and other partners to quickly order and customize their services.
Similarly, IoT represents a big opportunity for service providers, but capitalizing on it requires partners that can do much more than provide isolated technology elements. Effective IoT partners will help build and execute business cases.
For service providers to be successful as IoT, cloud and other network trends transform the communications industry, they will need to identify and collaborate with partners that can enable innovation across all channels, product lines and customer segments. The construction and management of diverse, open partner ecosystems has never been more important.
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