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ABI Calls SDN $6B Opportunity - Cisco and Nokia are Pioneers

By Paula Bernier August 12, 2013

Cisco and Nokia have positioned themselves as leaders on the important new software-defined networking and network functions virtualization fronts, according to a report by ABI Research.

SDN is an architecture that separates the control and data planes of the network and automatically looks at flows in the network, understanding the requirements of those different flows and using the network to provide those flows with the appropriate bandwidth and other network resources. This applications-first networking mindset is a significant change from how networks are designed and work today. It takes the traditional siloed approach to networking and effectively lays it on its side.

Image via Shutterstock 

NFV, meanwhile, has to do with virtualizing specific aspects of the network related to functions like deep packet inspection and the HSS, as two examples. This enables service providers to benefit from the cost savings in industry standard servers and allows them to more quickly introduce new services and capabilities from such infrastructure. NFV will be the focus of another TMC event, this one called Software Telco Congress, Nov. 19-21 in Santa Clara, Calif.

In naming Cisco and NSN as SDN leaders, ABI Research firm talks about Cisco’s nascent server business and its ASR5xxx software solutions, and about Nokia Siemens Network’s (now Nokia Solutions and Networks, following Nokia’s acquisition of Siemens’ stake in the original NSN) Liquid Core initiative.

As discussed in INTERNET TELEPHONY’s March issue, Cisco in November announced its intent to buy privately held Cariden Technologies, which reportedly has done some SDN work. Cisco also has been working on a software-defined networking architecture through a venture called Insieme Networks, as NFVZone has also previously reported. Cisco’s Shashi Kiran, senior director of data center, cloud and open networking, will give a presentation on “Cisco’s Take on SDN” on Aug. 26 during SDN Precon at Mandalay Bay, which will kickoff ITEXPO Vegas.

“Nokia Siemens Networks has taken leadership in virtualizing its Liquid Core network with commercial ATCA and HP servers, and is most aligned with NFV,” according to ABI Research.

Liquid Core enables network operators to run various core network elements on the same commercial off-the-shelf ATCA platforms (and, ultimately, on other generic multi-purpose hardware) simultaneously. 

ABI Research believes telecom networks will virtualize the services plane first, and then do the same to the control and data planes of new 3G and 4G networks, and it expects the virtualized mobile network spend to reach nearly $6 billion by 2018.

“Software-defined networking and network functions virtualization are shaping up to fundamentally change the nature of the telecom industry,” says Joe Hoffman, practice director at ABI Research. “The changes in business practices will enhance both top line and bottom line financial results much more than just cost reductions. In the long run, operators embracing SDN/NFV will outrun their competitors with a much faster service velocity.”

Edited by Alisen Downey

Executive Editor, TMC

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