The communications industry has rapidly been changing over the last few decades, ever more so lately. In recent years there has been a large increase in both bandwidth usage and the number of connected devices globally. This trend has shown no sign of slowing down. It is said that as many as 50 billion devices will be connected five years from now. Given this transition to a hyperconnected world, network service providers will need to respond to the changing environment.
Not only has usage increased, but also the way in which networks are used. Bit-by-bit, data's role has become more dominant. Network service providers have had some troubles in responding to the changes, not having been able to monetize data as well. This while facing increasing competition due to the rise of OTT service providers. Customers have gradually been driving new trends and adopting new services. Network service providers in turn need to respond to these new demands. Unfortunately, providers' static infrastructure has not allowed fast service innovation and short time-to-revenue. From having provided merely the infrastructure, network service providers will need to move toward more dynamic business models involving a richer variety of applications and content to drive new revenue. The increased demand for end-to-end services will really put the convergence of information technology (IT) and communications technology (CT) in focus. However, in order for this evolving business model to be realized, networks and the IT service environment will need to be modernized. This is where network enhancement and strengthened IT environments come into the picture.
As networks and IT have become increasingly interconnected the need for a new way of tackling the complexity of systems has emerged.
It is widely said that by abstracting, virtualizing, and making networks programmable it will be possible to drastically shorten the time-to-revenue and automate many processes. The benefits of this are twofold, first off is the new revenue possibilities from service innovation. Secondly, but perhaps more importantly, the operational expenditure can be vastly cut thanks to automation. Furthermore, since the equipment used in networks is virtualized, it will be possible to lower capital expenditures by using the resources at hand more efficiently. To maximize the gains from this transition, however, expertise in integration between networks and IT will be a key success factor.
From an IT perspective, networks used to be organized in a fashion where information was collected centrally at data centers. In order to provide richer network connectivity services, network service providers have made networks higher capacity and faster. The next step in this evolution is convergence of IT and networks. The convergence will mean that computing and network functions will be virtualized and can be distributed throughout the network. Today's networks are not able to handle the convergence sufficiently, it is therefore imperative to adopt network enhancement solutions that will be able to handle the needs of the future. SDN and NFV are a set of technologies that make it possible to converge IT and networks from a network perspective.
The SDN/NFV framework allows for more efficient utilization of networks, while promoting open standards and interoperability. Networks will become more resilient, easier to troubleshoot, and self-healing with the advent of this new technology. These points are also great examples of increased automation, which will lead to decreased operational expenditure. Given the multitude of applications and devices that will be deployed on the networks, flexible ways of dealing with network traffic and processing become more important. Networks of the future will need to be able to handle end-to-end processes. As business continues to globalize, it will be of greater importance that solutions act in a unified fashion. SDN/NFV can assist greatly in simplifying global service delivery from end-to-end.
Companies will be able to replicate homegrown concepts and successful implementations from their home markets in other markets. The reverse is of course also a possibility, using best practices from abroad and replicating them in one's home market.
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