Vodafone: SDN, NFV will force businesses to homogenize their infrastructure


Vodafone is telling businesses that decide to incorporate SDN and NFV into their network infrastructure that they will have to rethink how they purchase and procure network equipment.

Scott Petty, group enterprise technology director for Vodafone, said in a blog post that businesses will have to migrate toward an open standard architecture that can accommodate various platforms.

“Adopting SDN and NFV raises key challenges for any organization, as it's a fundamental change to a business's sourcing strategy,” Petty said in the blog post. “It will mean moving away from a single vendor strategy to a more homogenized infrastructure.”

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Petty added that this new approach will drive businesses to allocate budget resources in a “different way.”

In a typical network budget, nearly 70% of the costs are allocated toward purchasing equipment and necessary maintenance, whereas little is spent on the resources to configure and integrate the network resources. Petty said that in an IT data center budget, a company spends less on network equipment and more on integrating software elements into the network.

“To move SDN and NFV into the network space, the industry needs to find a way to not replicate the IT data-center model; otherwise the network will become more expensive and not more cost-effective,” Petty said.

In order to take advantage of SDN and NFV, Vodafone points out that businesses need to have network transformation plans in place. Similar to the transitions going on at large service providers such as Vodafone and AT&T, this transition could require personnel changes or retraining employees with new software skills.

Vodafone says a good indicator that will help enterprise customers in adopting SDN is how much of their network infrastructure has been pushed to the cloud.

“Typically, if less than 20% of an organization’s data-center is cloud native and is expected to be less than 50 per cent for the next three years, there is probably no business case for moving to SDN,” Petty said. “However, if it is currently 50 per cent cloud native with plans to be 75 per cent cloud native within the next three years, then absolutely the business needs to have an SDN strategy in place.”

On the business side, Vodafone has launched a VPN+ live pilot project to demonstrate the benefits of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) in supporting NFV and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

Although business SD-WAN adoption is still in the early stages, it’s clearly gaining momentum.

Nemertes Research revealed in its 2016/2017 Cloud and Data Center Benchmark study that 67% of companies it surveyed quantified SD-WAN’s benefits.  

What’s more, the study revealed that survey participants found SD-WAN reduced outages by an average of 95% and WAN troubleshooting costs by an average of 92%.

SD-WAN is part of Vodafone’s broader NFV/SDN strategy, code-named Ocean, which it says will form the basis for the transformation of all 26 national operators within the Vodafone group. Vodafone's business customers are a key focus, with SDN- and NFV-based VPN services cited as the first service it will launch.

As part of its broader SDN build, Vodafone selected Nokia’s Nuage Networks platform to support the service provider's SDN data center efforts. Nuage will supply its Networks Virtualized Service Platform (VSP).

The VSP supplies end-to-end policy-based automation across data centers, WAN sites, and public cloud providers to enable synergy across network offerings such as MPLS VPN and hybrid WAN services.