IHS Markit said a recent survey unearthed strong operator interest in the deployment of network functions virtualisation (NFV), with 100 per cent of survey participants saying they will deploy NFV “at some point” and 81 per cent expecting to do so by 2017.
In a summary of the survey that was emailed to FierceWireless:Europe, the research company added that 59 per cent of operator respondents have already deployed or will deploy NFV this year.
IHS Markit also recently predicted that the global NFV market -- comprising hardware, software and services -- would be worth $15.5 billion (€13.7 billion) by 2020.
NFV is certainly a tough nut to crack. Service providers cite the integration of NFV into existing networks as well as the lack of carrier-grade products as two major obstacles on the deployment path.
Indeed, in a recent special report on the subject by FierceWireless:Europe, David Amzallag, who heads up NFV/SDN at Vodafone, said the deployment of NFV requires “a very unique strategy and journey”.
Vodafone is working on an NFV strategy codenamed Ocean that will form the basis for the transformation of all 26 national operators within the Vodafone group.
Amzallag added that the Ocean programme has involved a close collaboration among the company’s operations, engineering and technology teams that has been “beyond expectation in the past year.”
The IHS Markit study indicates that operators everywhere believe they have little choice but to go down the route of deploying NFV and its software-defined networking (SDN) companion. Expected future benefits include improved automation; new, more agile services and revenue; operational efficiency; and capex savings.
IHS Markit further noted that the vast majority of early NFV deployments in the next year will be for business virtualised enterprise customer premises equipment (vE-CPE), also known as vBranch or enterprise vCPE.
Indeed, Vodafone’s Amzallag said services for enterprises will be a primary objective, with SDN- and NFV-based VPN the first service to be launched.
Tier-one mobile operators leading the way in Europe include Orange, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, Swisscom, Telekom Austria and Orange.
Orange, for example, is taking a “function by function” approach that will see new solutions launched only when they bring real benefits. It has already been testing an SDN-enabled virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE) solution and plans to introduce this gradually to its customers.