Using SDN and NFV to transform the network

Sue Marek

Wireless networks are on the brink of what could be one of the biggest transformations in the industry's history. The buzz around Software-Defined Networks and Network Functions Virtualization has escalated during the past six months, and many industry analysts are revising their estimates about how quickly these technologies will be deployed by operators around the globe.

Goldman Sachs estimates that the SDN market will be a $1 billion business by 2018. In addition, in a survey of operators, Infonetics Research found that 29 percent said they were currently implementing SDN and 52 percent were planning to evaluate SDN by the end of 2014.

The reasoning is pretty clear--operators could see huge advantages by deploying SDN and NFV because the technologies promise to provide cost savings from both an operational perspective and a capital expenditure perspective.

AT&T (NYSE: T) has been particularly vocal about its commitment to virtualization. The operator launched its Domain 2.0 initiative last September and has named several vendors that will be supporting its program. Recently, FierceWireless Editor Phil Goldstein talked with Marian Croak, senior vice president of Domain 2.0 architecture and advanced services development at AT&T, about why SDN and NFV are so important to AT&T, and why she thinks other operators should get on board.

Croak said that Domain 2.0 is about creating a user-defined network. SDN and NFV are key because in order to have a programmable network that is user-defined, you need to have interfaces with things like policy engines. SDN is the controller for that and NFV becomes the virtualization. Croak added that AT&T will begin deploying parts of Domain 2.0 as early as this year.

For vendors this movement to NFV and SDN spells both trouble and opportunity. Croak said that AT&T wants to make sure vendors are relying on open-source software as opposed to building proprietary systems. In addition, she said that AT&T will be working with both traditional vendors and newer, smaller vendors.

We've taken an in-depth look at how SDN and NFV are transforming the telecom world in the latest FierceWireless ebook, "Advancing the network through SDN and NFV." It's free to download. Just click here. --Sue

P.S. FierceWireless will be observing Memorial Day on Monday, May 26. Look for us to return to your inbox next Tuesday.