View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. Technology
  2. Networks
February 4, 2014

SDN around the corner as service providers move into cloud territory

Nathan Pearce from F5 says that SDN use will increase as network operators look to monetise their networks.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

"There’s no getting around the fact that the move to IP-networks with LTE is fundamentally changing the way that service providers are organising their networks. The increased reliance on packet-switching means that mobile network operators (MNOs) are becoming more and more like traditional IT businesses in their infrastructure. It would be no surprise to me if service providers were to become the largest users of cloud technology in the next year or so as they increasingly look to virtualise more of their network. But what does this mean for the future of the network?

We are going to see an increased dependence on Software Defined Networking (SDN) as MNOs look for more innovative ways to monetise their networks. For example, managing quality of service by routing different subscribers’ data traffic to various optimisation tools based on their data plans, without requiring dedicated hardware switches and routers to achieve this. This will almost certainly start to become the norm for LTE in 2014.

Beyond SDN, Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) will be the next stage in MNOs’ journey to the cloud: network operators are tiring of needing to have dedicated hardware for each function in their networks. They want to virtualise the hardware.

In a more traditional network infrastructure, operators would have a ‘Box A’ from Vendor Y doing routing, ‘Box B’ from Vendor X managing the NAT, and so on; every function requiring its own dedicated hardware. Ultimately, the ideal end-game is for operators to rely on virtualised instances of specialised equipment on general computing hardware in a datacentre.

Luckily for MNOs, most of the necessary network functions are already available as virtualised functions; the challenge that many of them will face in the short term is matching the performance of dedicated hardware. However, the rewards for success are potentially massive. Successful NFV would mean that hardware becomes more scalable and virtual machines can be spooled up as and when necessary – using the available network computing power for the tasks that are most needed in real-time, driving down both OpEx and CapEx requirements.

NFV is coming, and the train is already in motion. But while full virtualisation might be further down the tracks it won’t be very long until we see virtualisation of value-added services and optimisation services being deployed commercially. Those service providers that get ahead early stand a good chance of leading the pack for some time to come."

Nathan Pearce, F5 Networks

Content from our partners
Scan and deliver
GenAI cybersecurity: "A super-human analyst, with a brain the size of a planet."
Cloud, AI, and cyber security – highlights from DTX Manchester

Websites in our network
Select and enter your corporate email address Tech Monitor's research, insight and analysis examines the frontiers of digital transformation to help tech leaders navigate the future. Our Changelog newsletter delivers our best work to your inbox every week.
  • CIO
  • CTO
  • CISO
  • CSO
  • CFO
  • CDO
  • CEO
  • Architect Founder
  • MD
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.