Infonetics: SDN, NFV enter carrier trial phase, but deployments won't happen until 2015

Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) are clearly the talk of the town in the networking and telecom circles, but the real proof will come as service providers begin to apply these technologies in their live networks.

According to a new Infonetics Research survey, 29 percent of participants said they are currently implementing SDNs, while 52 percent plan to evaluate SDNs by the end of the year. Almost every service provider the research firm interviewed plans to deploy SDN (97 percent) or NFV (93 percent) in some aspect of their network at some time in the future.

One of the initial applications for SDN will be for the MPLS backbones followed by multilayer transport.

No less important is NFV. Respondents said that using NFV for business service delivery would be the key use case between 2014 and 2015. Despite its allure, service providers cite back office OSS/BSS as the biggest barrier to deploying NFV.

"This is the year that SDN and NFV move from the lab to field trials," said Michael Howard, co-founder and principal analyst for carrier networks at Infonetics Research. "Many carriers are in the process of moving from SDN/NFV proof-of-concept projects to working with vendors in the development and 'productization' of software that will become the basis for commercial deployments."

However, Howard cautioned that while a few service providers will begin commercial SDN and NFV deployments, the real rubber won't meet the road until next year.

"It won't be until 2015 that we'll see commercial deployments kick into motion, still most likely on a limited basis, as operators put one or two use cases to the test under real world conditions, in their live networks."

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