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NFV Will Be a Huge Part of Service Provider Lineups by 2017

By Steve Anderson August 25, 2016

It was fairly easy to see that firms were getting behind network functions virtualization (NFV) in a big way, thanks to its ability to help take strain off of budgets by requiring less infrastructure in place to get the same level of functionality. New word from IHS Markit says that NFV is going to continue to be a big name in the coming months, as by 2017, 81 percent of firms in the study expect to bring out some level of NFV to the operation.

That 81 percent target might sound ambitious, but the job is already mostly done. So far, 59 percent of firms in the study either already have rolled out NFV operations, or expect to do so by the end of 2016. An extra 22 percent over the course of the next several months, and the target's achieved.

Most of the NFV deployments put in place in that time will be the virtualized enterprise customer premises equipment (vE-CPE) deployments, sometimes called enterprise vCPE, or even just vBranch. Such systems allow companies to take current CPE already in place and replace it with software-based systems, which are overall less expensive, and reduce the time-to-market on new services. Other NFV uses include service chaining, vNPaaS for the Internet of Things—which could be a mixed-use between enterprise and regular user levels—and even some applications directly at the consumer home level.

Additionally, one of the big drivers of NFV is that many of the proof-of-concept systems that went in back in 2014 and slightly forward are going completely live, a development which will likely put more NFV systems on the ground and operating. However, the study also points out that NFV and its close cohort software-defined networking (SDN) are still comparatively young technologies. That means there could be some unexpected bumps in the road to come that may slow down the process.

That's important to note; we could end up seeing less than projected deployments if some unexpected problems jump into the fray, problems we didn't even really know existed because this technology hasn't had a real opportunity to run yet. This is the time when such problems are found, though, and the sooner any issues are found, the sooner these can be addressed. The good news is that a lot of deployments have already gone in—remember that 59 percent figure—so many of the issues may have already been found in at least some use cases. That will make for a smoother transition and make us much more likely to hit that 81 percent expected target.

NFV is delivering quite a bit of value already, and the farther on we go, the better a job it will likely do. There's a lot at stake here, especially given how much NFV can deliver in savings, so there will be many watching these developments with bated breath and plans for the future. 

Edited by Alicia Young

Contributing Writer

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