It may still be early days for network functions virtualization (NFV), but it's clear that service providers are moving to deploy it on a large scale.
According to a new Dell'Oro Group study, a number of traditional service providers are seeing value in NFV because it leverages virtualization software and cloud computing technologies commonly used by Internet content and web service provider giants such as Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Facebook and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN).
"While NFV technologies are still immature, the industry is continuing to push hard on development and the discussion has changed from 'if' it will happen to 'when' it will happen," said Shin Umeda, vice president at Dell'Oro Group and author of the report. "Up to now, NFV implementations have been on a small scale, but we are seeing signs that some very large projects will start ramping in the next 12 months."
Recent moves by AT&T (NYSE: T), Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) all signal that service providers are embracing both NFV and software defined networking (SDN). AT&T has set the year 2020 to migrate 75 percent of its network elements to software and has extended its SDN-based network on demand capability to 100 cities, while Verizon recently named its key vendors for its SDN migration. Meanwhile, CenturyLink is working in tandem with Ericsson to implement SDN functions to enhance delivery methods for next-gen optical and Ethernet services.
At the same time, vendors are enhancing their product sets with more SDN and NFV elements as seen with Ciena's proposed acquisition of Cyan. Cisco, meanwhile, cemented its position in AT&T's (NYSE: T) Domain 2.0 software initiative by purchasing tail-f last year. Verizon, one of Cisco's key customers, also recently named the vendor as part of its initial vendor team to make its transition to SDN.
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