SDN, NFV driving big shift in network architecture

Sue Marek

Wireless operators around the globe are preparing for a big shift in their network architecture with the advent of software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), two technologies that promise to accelerate innovation and allow them to deploy new services more quickly and efficiently.

The incentive to virtualize telecom networks is strong. SDN will allow operators to use software to control network functions and policies in the cloud so they can deploy new services quickly and less expensively. By being less reliant upon proprietary hardware platforms, SDN and NFV will also allow operators to reduce operating expenses because they won't need as much real estate to store boxes of equipment and they won't need as much power to keep the hardware operational.

In the U.S., both Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T) have been talking about their SDN plans. AT&T has publicly shared its goal to virtualize and control more than 75 percent of its network using a software-driven architecture by 2020. Meanwhile, Verizon, while more reluctant to give specific goals, has identified its initial five SDN vendors, including Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Cisco Systems, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), Juniper Networks and Nokia Networks (NYSE:NOK).

Globally, Infonetics Research estimates that there will be 20 to 30 operators that will deploy SDN and NFV this year and probably another 50 will deploy it in 2016.

The migration to SDN and NFV is moving very quickly. To help operators stay on top of this trend, FierceWireless is taking an in-depth look at how SDN and NFV are going to dramatically change the wireless network and the entire telecom business. Click here to download the eBook.--Sue