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Virtualization deployment lagging as telecoms industry faces new roadblocks

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Despite a clear desire for virtualization of networks and shift to cloud-based technology, Communication Service Providers (CSPs) are facing serious roadblocks along the way, according to new research from specialist consulting firm Cartesian.

That said, NFV and SDN technologies have made significant progress in recent years and are undoubtedly the future, as highlighted by those within the industry. For example, 69% of respondents agreed that network operators which do not virtualize their networks will struggle to compete and nearly three-quarters (74%) said operators must implement NFV/SDN in order to meet future customer needs.

Many businesses have therefore already started their transformation efforts, seeking to capitalise on multiple long and short-term benefits such as greater flexibility, shorter time to market and a reduction in deployment lead times.

Looking further ahead, CSPs cited the likes of CapEx and OpEx cost savings, increases in operational efficiencies and the creation of new services and revenue streams as key business drivers.

However, according to Cartesian’s in-depth ‘Future of Networks’ report, progress is being hampered by a lack of technical maturity and operational issues that have proven to be even harder than many expected.

Over half (52%) of respondents agree that the amount of operational change required to move to a virtualized network is overwhelming, with this sentiment being driven by a range of factors. For example, having to manage multi-vendor systems is creating a huge amount of complexity, as is the need to maintain a hybrid environment throughout a long transition period.

Furthermore, in many cases the introduction of NFV/SDN requires entirely new operating plans for end-to-end service management, meaning operational processes need to be either changed or re-made from scratch.

As a result, as noted by an interviewee, the industry has fallen into a “trough of disillusionment” and must redouble efforts if the true potential of virtualization is to be fulfilled.

“Despite the excitement around NFV and SDN, CSPs face a mammoth task,” commented Steve Upton, Senior VP of Networks and Operations Consulting at Cartesian. “The operational complexity associated with any network transformation shouldn’t be underestimated and businesses are realizing that there is still plenty of work to be done.

“But, there are steps operators and CSPs can take to make their lives easier. They should start by creating a comprehensive plan for NFV/SDN deployment and be sure to employ partners with the expertise to guide them through the process. The industry also has a role to play, as greater standardization and multi-vendor integration would go a long way towards helping operators along their virtualization journeys.”

The report, ‘The Future of Networks: Dealing with transformation in a virtualized world’, interviewed a cross-section of senior decision-makers from some of the world’s leading communication service providers, telecoms vendors and system integrators to shed light on the biggest challenges facing the industry.

The full report can be found here.

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