Integration of cloud, data center and network assets riding on software-defined networks and virtualization technology will be the biggest trend to happen in the next few years.
Networking vendors and service providers, such as NTT Com Asia, have recognized that the NFV and SDN trend is imminent and have begun incorporating these new technologies as complementary capabilities to their existing platforms, thus driving more innovations.
"NFV and SDN is the future of network and is transforming enterprise network, to help CIOs overcoming their challenges and offer business benefits, such as improved network availability, better security, scalability, asset light, agility, cost-efficiency, as well as better use of operational resources," said Patrick Ng, Executive Vice President of Global Network Business Division of NTT Com Asia, in an email interview with Networks Asia.
"By taking advantage of SDN and NFV, network-related services will be delivered from the enterprise wide area network cloud through a shared infrastructure, without having to deploy and maintain dedicated equipment required by traditional network architecture."
Asia ahead of Europe
An IDC survey commissioned by NTT Communications shows that 18% of respondents from Asia were currently using NFV to address network challenges in the region, which was ahead of Europe (12.8%), but slightly behind the U.S. (21.9%). However, this is going to change as 42% noted that they planned to use NFV-enabled networks within one year, 30% within two years and 10% in more than two years (43.2%).
Asia will be expanding quickly in the coming one year. Europe with a late start, is also appear poised to make a strong push into NFV in 2015 while United States is expected to grow continuously.
NTT Communications recognizes “Sprawling ICT” as one of the biggest challenges for enterprises. Especially for network, complexity increases as business connectivity and communications become paramount in the age of digital transformation. The service providers’ job is to reduce the “frictions” that stand in the way.
"NFV and SDN transformation is a good example on how network is made more simplified, efficient and intelligent. In the future, customers would be able to enjoy the agile and flexible cloud-based services and software that network service providers offer," notes Ng.
Ng says that future cloud-based network services can be easily deployed and managed through the self-managed Integrated Customer Portal, elevating network visibility to a new level. "It allows access to traffic reporting, outage information, and trouble ticket resolution. Customers can instantly activate, configure and deactivate services to meet end users' needs in an ever-changing business environment."
NFV vs. SDN
While NFV enables companies to transfer a network’s physical assets from on-premises to network-hosted virtual machines, it eliminates the complexity and expense of maintaining dedicated on-premise devices.
From the perspective of service providers, the solution enables new services to be rolled out more quickly. And from customers’ point of view, it also addresses the needs to encompass hardware from multiple vendors that populate enterprise networks, and reduce the upfront investment on hardware.
On the other hand, SDN disaggregates the network control logic from the network equipment, to provide a service layer that is more manageable and programmable than physically reconfiguring networks. Enterprises would be able to adjust their network capacity more flexibly during peak time.
"In short, SDN and NFV are two different technologies that can be implemented separately — but they are better combined to achieve greater agility. The use of SDN configuration and control protocols can serve as the base for the network infrastructure supporting NFV, and conversely, the possibility of using NFV for virtualizing the forwarding plane function," said Ng.