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The Ultimate Software Race: How Can Providers Reach the Finish Line?

By Allison Boccamazzo August 13, 2014

A huge barrier to achieving software telecommunications is the support of providers’ existing infrastructure, especially at the edge of the network. We’re entering a new age of innovative and compelling infrastructure, and one that many providers are seeing as a necessity to transition to. So, how can software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies optimally be deployed? More importantly, which strategies make sense and which don’t? The success of today’s competing providers is dependent on these answers.

It’s an exciting space to be involved in, and that excitement was certainly felt during today’s panel, “Making the Transition to Software—Are We Ready?” which took place Wednesday during Software Telco Congress (STC), a collocated event of ITEXPO 2014, taking place through August 14 at the Rio in Las Vegas.

Panelists included Andrew Coward, VP of Service Provider Strategy at Brocade; Jose De Francisco Lopez, Alcatel-Lucent; and Mark Durrett, Vice President, Overture Networks and the session was moderated by TMC’s very own Senior Editor Peter Bernstein.

So, what are today’s industry experts seeing regarding this transition? For Durrett, it’s where NFV deployment is taking place. “One area that is particularly interesting to me is that some operators are looking to deploy NFV functions right at the edge of the customer premise. That’s an interesting development of which security is a major driver,” he said.

For De Francisco Lopez, it’s the role that the cloud is playing in making this transition. “The cloud enables us to do many more things than were possible before,” he said. For example, the cloud makes it easier for systematic errors to not propagate.

Today, so many providers are feeling the pressure to be more innovative and competitive to ultimately generate more revenue. So, on to the burning question at hand: are service providers ready to make the software transition?

The short answer: they have to be.

“There is no easy button,” Coward cautioned. “You have to be aware of companies and vendors that claim there is an easy button; these kinds of vendors are taking proprietary solutions and painting them with SDN and NFV colors and calling it software networking.”

This transition also requires change not only technologically but regarding skill sets. “Those skills must broaden, and that’s the hard work that we have ahead of us,” Coward added. “It’s a race; we’re in a mad scramble to constantly get ahead, and I find that fascinating.”

“In the end it’s about delivering services,” Durrett said. “What’s going to be possible once those initial deployments are made, and created around this new infrastructure, will be enthralling. If it’s built right, then really exciting methodologies will be coming on the heels of that.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Director of Brand Strategy

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