Tales from the Field: SDN and NFV

Jul 7, 2014 by Mark Durrett

Overture Mark Durrett

“SDN” and “NFV” are on the tips of everyone’s tongues these days. With so much buzz  and confusion, we wanted to get the straight scoop from those who are closest to the action – our team of in-house experts who help Overture’s customers to successfully navigate these evolving technology developments on a daily basis.

So I spoke with Danny Fuston, Vice President of Sales, US East; Erik Kempen, director of sales engineering; Fernando Nunez Orantes, sales director; and Marc Suarez, senior sales engineer to get a sense of what’s happening in the field.

Q: What do you think will be the most exciting software-defined service or application?

Danny: What I’m hearing from the field is that the most exciting development in software driven services is being able to really, truly bring together voice and data, allowing service providers to reduce the installed hardware footprint at the customer’s premise. I also think the most deployed virtualized network function we’ll see is the session border controller (SBC) – this particular use of virtualization has the potential to save tremendous amounts of time and shorten the speed-to-market cycle, which is something every service provider and operator wants to see.  Additionally, virtualizing the branch office router represents a major CapEx savings, while others like deep packet inspection (DPI) are also very interesting.

Fernando: Drawing upon my experiences in the field with fixed-line operators serving SMB customers, I’d have to agree that SBC is among the greatest use cases for NFV. Another key scenario would be router and firewall virtualization. In terms of applications, secured and unsecured Internet access, Internet Protocol (IP) / Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS), and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking are all solid examples of where we’ll see continued NFV innovations taking place.

Marc: I think what happens at the customer’s premise will definitely be key. Service virtualization at the customer premise is one of the most compelling use cases for NFV, in my opinion. Deploying a new service often requires a truck roll and installation of a new device or appliance, which then needs a corresponding service maintenance window to make it all go smoothly. By initially installing an NFV-enabled device as Customer Premise Equipment (CPE), services can be enabled or disabled on the fly without dispatching a service technician or impacting customer operations. It really opens the door to a “try-and-buy” model, where the service provider can offer their customers the ability to sample new services with minimal CapEx or OpEx outlay.

Erik: For me, the most exciting thing about these technologies is that you are limited only by your imagination. If you’re leveraging a mix of data center, Central Office (CO), and CPE-based SDN and NFV, then you can envision just about anything. The fact that you can combine many functions into a single cloud or even a single platform, gives operators tremendous power.  And with the Overture solution, you can host those functions that make sense in the centralized point of presence, and deploy the others at the customer premise to bring unparalleled level of scalability and flexibility, and help prevent truck rolls for replacement of equipment. It’s less a “killer app” than it is a “killer factor”.

About the Author

D. Mark Durrett is the vice president of marketing at Overture Networks where he drives market initiatives and brand awareness for Overture’s Carrier Ethernet and Ensemble OSA™ metro edge solutions.  Mark is also the executive editor of CarrierEthernetNews.com, the only online news community for the Carrier Ethernet industry and is a global marketing co-chair at the MEF and a contributor to the Open Networking Foundation market education committee.  As an engineer, engineering manager, product manager and marketing executive, Mark has been designing and marketing communications equipment and network security software at industry pioneers such as Hatteras Networks, Covelight Systems, NetEdge Systems and Wandel & Goltermann for over 20 years.  Mark holds a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University.

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