I recently participated in a panel session at the MEF16 conference focused on the Evolution of Services, Technology, & Professional Certification.  It’s clear that a big part of that evolution involves deploying SDN and NFV, primarily to help network operators reduce CAPEX and OPEX, but more importantly to help bridge the agility gap and generate new revenue opportunities.

Research from Michael Howard, Senior Research Director of Carrier Networks for IHS Markit, reveals that 100% of global service providers surveyed said they plan to deploy SDN and NFV. Virtual network functionality is currently being deployed at customer sites, cloud-based central office locations, and at both local and remote data centers. 

Deploying NFV-based services will create new revenue opportunities for network operators, including the $19 billion managed security arena, the $3 billion optimization market, and/or the $2+ billion SD-WAN market, according to estimates from Ciena’s MSP Consulting team.

So it’s clear that network operators are well aware of the need to reengineer the delivery of network services to help them with everything from jeopardized revenues, to exploding bandwidth demands, to the growing agility gap they face today. Their biggest struggle, however, is quickly becoming how to migrate away from the current catalog of existing ‘rigid’ services to more modern, personalized self-service models.

Although the migration process will require some changes to network operators’ service creation processes, billing and lifecycle management operations, the challenges involved in SDN and NFV migration shouldn’t dissuade network operators from moving forward. 

Here are three pieces of advice for network operators looking to make the migration to SDN and NFV:

1.  Remember it takes a village to make SDN and NFV work. It’s important to bring your supplier partners along to help you succeed in this transformation. Otherwise, what may succeed in the lab is likely to fail once implemented in the field.

2.  Break the challenge of SDN/NFV migration down into byte-sized chunks. This is a marathon, not a sprint and your organization will evolve as you learn. Picking the right partners can make the biggest difference in easing the transition.

3.  Be prepared to explore ‘adjacent’ markets. In addition to the segments you target today, your ability to offer incremental value in ancillary markets will help bring enormous bottom-line returns.

Migrating to SDN and NFV requires creating a team, an ‘ecosystem’ that will help facilitate open collaboration. For Ciena, this has translated to partners who participate in our Blue Planet DevOps Exchange and use our Blue Planet DevOps Toolkit. These partners are helping to create resource adapters, service templates and develop use cases that can help network operators through the migration process. Ciena is also committed to onboarding a broad range of products, including VNFs, physical network elements, services and software from an array of technology partners.

Ciena’s service partners, systems integrators and managed service providers, along with the company’s own services experts, are also dedicated to helping network operators in those migration efforts. For example, Ciena’s services team can help network operators through every stage of the migration process: from consulting, to design, build, operations and the transfer of network operations.

The benefits of leveraging Ciena’s services expertise are compelling, and include:

  • Gaining a Single Point of Service for ‘peace of mind’ -- all aspects can be managed by a single source to ease transition efforts.
  • Improving service velocity -- Ciena can complement in-house capabilities with software, process and/or technological expertise needed to help network operators reduce ‘time-to-market service introduction cycles’ that will help close the agility gap.
  • Reducing Risk -- Ciena’s experience gained from real-world deployment efforts can help mitigate risks for network operators.
  • Allowing customers to focus on core competencies -- working with Ciena’s services team can help any organization concentrate on critical operations, while speeding processes involved in rolling out new services.

Below are a few videos from the show floor at MEF16 where I and a few of my colleagues talk about topics that span MEF CE2.0 certification, our unveiling of Ciena’s new Distributed NFV solution, and the concepts of network openness and lifecycle orchestration.