SDN and NFV Adoption Hinges on Customer Understanding

By Laura Stotler February 02, 2016

2016 is shaping up to be a year of change and a year of choices, particularly in the technology sector. Advances in cloud services and infrastructure and an explosion of devices and applications are fueling the Internet of Things (IoT) and bringing advantages in the form of cost savings and increased scalability and flexibility.

By all accounts, this year will be huge for software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). IHS Infonetics predicts the total market for in-use SDN Ethernet switches and controllers will double in value from last year, surpassing $1.4 billion. And the market for NFV hardware, software and services is even bigger, reportedly $2.3 billion last year and expected to hit $11.6 billion by 2019.

The big question then, is why some companies are still reluctant to embrace SDN and NFV for their IT infrastructure? A recent blog post on VanillaPlus examines some of the barriers to adoption as well as some of the benefits of both SDN and NFV technologies. One of the biggest and most obvious barriers to adoption is the same one that held back cloud computing initially, simply a fear of change. Companies have run their architectures on legacy hardware for a long time, and while the benefits of software-based and virtualized solutions are appealing, change is always difficult.

Another complication is a perceived incompatibility between SDN and NFV technologies. Companies don’t have to choose one or the other, however, as both methodologies work extremely well together and offer myriad benefits in the form of better network performance and overall better return on investment. SDN solutions are typically focused on unifying and automating processes across distributed networks, while NFV is centered on optimizing actual network services. Both methodologies are typically software-based and focused on speed, agility and automation, making it easy to see why they’re a great fit for one another within the larger network infrastructure.

A final barrier to adoption is another common issue for new technologies and that is a failure to properly educate businesses of all sizes about the benefits of SDN and NFV. Not only do organizations need to understand how these technologies will affect their bottom line, they also need to view them in action to be able to truly understand their impact on network performance. Thankfully, SDN easily lends itself to providing a user-friendly, high-level view of network functions and operations.

Ultimately, as prospective customers understand they have a great deal of choice and flexibility for implementing both SDN and NFV, adoption can be expected to skyrocket. It’s up to solution and service providers to ensure their customer understand the wide range of benefits these types of solutions can provide.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

NFVZone Contributing Editor

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