Cisco Exec Touts NFV, SDN in New Year's Predictions

Although old-guard networking company Cisco Systems Inc. was slow to embrace new-age disruptions such as network functions virtualization (NFW) and software-defined networking (SDN), it's fully invested now and a company exec predicts big things for the upstart technologies in the year ahead.

Exec Jeff Reed penned a list of 10 factors contributing to a major technology shift in 2017, with NFV and SDN figuring prominently in the top five.

Coming in at No. 2 in Reed's list is the prediction that "NFV comes to the enterprise."

"Virtualization is hot right now -- and with good cause," Reed said in his post. "We're going to see Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) spread from service providers to the enterprise -- beginning in the branch. It will allow those leading-edge network teams with a multitude of branches to more easily provision, chain and scale branch network services."

Reed's prediction is bolstered by industry heavyweights such as AT&T -- which in July launched a Network Functions on Demand service -- and Verizon, which soon followed up with its competing counterpart, Virtual Network Services.

Meanwhile, technology giants such as Google are hopping on the NFV/SDN bandwagon, with the company announcing in July that it was joining the CORD (Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center) project, formed by Open Networking Lab (ON.Lab) and The Linux Foundation, who are building out the fledgling CORD initiative -- conceived to bring "datacenter economics and cloud flexibility to the telco central office and to the entire access network" -- into a separate open source project with independent governance, partners, collaborators and contributors.

To compete with the big boys, smaller companies such NEC and Juniper announced NFV partnerships. And on the open source front, the OPNFV Project for Network Functions Virtualization was last year deemed "lab ready" in its second release.

Announcements such as these, along with many others, support Reed's prediction of an emerging enterprise role for NFV in the year ahead.

Networking Trends
[Click on image for larger view.] Networking Trends (source: Cisco Systems).

NFV's close cousin, SDN, ranks at No. 4 on Reed's list, which predicts SDN will move beyond the datacenter.

"The seeds of software-defined networking (SDN) are already taking root in the data center and now the WAN," Reed said. "Expect the SDN seeds to start sprouting in campus fabrics for both wired and wireless environments. The vision of end-to-end programmability and automation across all network domains will start becoming a reality in 2017."

That prediction is supported by a recent survey from Pluribus Networks. "When it comes to the technologies that IT professionals think will most impact their company over the next three years, public clouds and private clouds (software-defined infrastructure) are the clear leaders (each 43 percent)," Pluribus said in November while announcing the study.

"When looking at the top nine new technologies in the IT space (server virtualization, cloud services, containers, software-defined networking, mobile/tablet computing, converged infrastructure, virtual desktop infrastructure, and Big Data and Hadoop), in practically every one, more than 50 percent of IT professionals said that they are either deploying the new technology or actively researching it," Pluribus said. "This means the majority of organizations are considering, piloting or deploying a wide range of the newest IT technologies."

Other empirical evidence supporting the growing role of SDN and software-defined datacenters (SDDC) came from studies published by companies both big -- Dell -- and small -- Talari Networks.

"Eighty-eight percent of [IT decision makers] and 80 percent of [business decision makers] say their organization is considering adopting a software-defined datacenter (SDDC), is in the process of transitioning, or has already completed the transition to one," Dell said.

Focusing on software-defined WAN implementations, Talari said, "More and more, we are seeing SD-WAN getting placed in the same budget as the MPLS, WAN OP and Router Replacement budgets. And with nearly 75 percent of the respondents saying they would be willing to replace their MPLS for SD-WAN, IT is starting to make the necessary budget adjustments to acquire this critical technology."

The foundational tenets of NFV and SDN also come into play in some of Reed's other predictions, specifically dealing with network programmability. The full list of Reed's predictions, as outlined in the infographic above, include:

  • WAN Redesign
  • NFV Comes to the Enterprise
  • IoT in the Carpeted World
  • SDN Moves Beyond the Data Center
  • Network Assurance Grows Up, Moves into the Cloud
  • Location-based Services Goes from Niche to Mainstream
  • Voice over Wi-Fi at Scale
  • Network 'Admin' to Network 'Programmer'
  • Programming Moves from Device to Controller
  • Low Power Wireless Access Takes Off

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.


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