In the beginning of June, I did a talk at Bynet Expo titled “Powering the Agile Operator.” Part of the talk was about how NFV could help power the agile operator. As most readers know, NFV promises lower CAPEX, lower OPEX, and faster rollout of services. In other words, agility. As such, NFV is a key component of the “agile” strategy.
But why and how? To me, NFV is about a service provider obtaining the best of breed VNFs (Virtual Network Functions – basically software-based functionality that the network requires to do its job) for what the service provider is trying to do, and putting them together in their network. It borrows concepts from the IT domain where you get the best functionality and have them all work together. This best of breed software approach is new for service providers and will be a game changer in the ability to roll out services. Lower CAPEX and lower OPEX are certainly byproducts of that.
As such, the service provider is not tied to a single supplier, which means they’re not tied to their schedule, or at the whims of their fees for doing special upgrades. The service provider will have software-based choices. The service provider can put the network they want together from the VNFs. Of course, there is work to do regarding interoperability, but that will come.
The fact that software can work on existing hardware, software VNFs can be spun up and down as network needs dictate, and that this software can be developed independently from the hardware is a huge step forward in network agility.