A significant shift has taken place in the telecom landscape as market dynamics bring together need and opportunity to create a major change.
The need: service providers are looking for better ways to fend off their competition, and are in an ever-pressing quest to keep their customers happy while improving their bottom line. The opportunity: technology evolution pushes virtualisation and software-defined networking from theory to practice to enable automated and speedy service delivery with a lucrative cost structure. The shift to NFV spells a major transformation for communications vendors, who must change the way they operate if they are to survive the current revolution.
The value proposition and competitive differentiation that are attached to vendor offerings can no longer be “all about the box”. As virtualisation crosses over from the IT to the networking realm, yesterday’s appliances are now being treated as platforms, onto which software-based network functions are added as needed. The result is a new, holistic ruler by which vendors are measured.
The holistic perspective is paramount, because NFV allows operators the freedom to distribute a network function among several entities or locations anywhere between the data center and the customer edge, rendering the traditional device-driven classification of network resources obsolete. Multiple such functions, each from a different source, may be chained ad-hoc to allow a quick response to premium service users’ needs, raising the complexity factor even further. As a result, management and orchestration have become extremely critical, which presents a paradox of sorts: as functions become more complex, their management needs to be simple, dynamic and open. These control systems must automate service-driven processes and handle virtual and physical resources smarty to force OpEx down and efficiency up. Add to that service provider expectations of vendor independence and a new set of solution selection criteria is formed, affecting all aspects of vendor operations from product portfolio and R&D roadmaps to vendor collaboration and business strategy.
Much like in consumer electronics, the new agile network obliterates the walled garden approach and forces vendors to play nicely with others, making their offering as lucrative as the breadth of their ecosystem. Recognising these new rules and adapting to them quickly will determine vendors’ survivability, however the ones who will get ahead in 2015 will be those who bring real value through continuous innovation. We see great opportunities at this market inflection point as we build on a strong foundation and continue delivering solutions that alleviate real pain points for service providers, utilities, transportation companies, and government networks.
Lior Mishan is the Head of Marketing Communications and Product Marketing at RAD.