Software-defined network (SDN) and large-scale network virtualisation are two emerging telecom industry technologies that will combine to drive a more software-centric and programmable telecom infrastructure and services ecosystem. 
According to new research from International Data Corporation (IDC), these complementary and transformative technologies will have a sustained impact on today’s communication service providers (CSPs) and the way they do business.
“IDC believes that the rapid global growth of data and video traffic across all networks, the increasing use of public and private cloud services, and the desire from consumers and enterprises for faster, more agile service and application delivery are driving the telecom markets toward an inevitable era of network virtualisation,” says Nav Chander, research manager, Telecom Services and Network Infrastructure, IDC.
“SDN and large-scale network virtualization will become a game shifter, providing important building blocks for delivering future enterprise and hybrid, private, and public cloud services.”
CSP networking of large data centres will be the first battleground for SDN. Networking data centres employing SDN-based solutions will be driven by the requirements for hyper-scale networked data centres built by specialist cloud providers like Rackspace, Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
Additional demand for hyper-scale networking data centres will be generated over time by CSPs like Verizon, ATT, BT, Orange Business, NTT DATA, SingTel, and Tata Communications. Additionally, CSPs’ ability to embrace new disruptive software platforms will enable multivendor network virtualisation.
Major CSPs have recently joined forces to establish a new Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) group to specify a set of virtualized network functional requirements. The goal is to reduce the number of specialised and fragmented proprietary hardware-based network appliances or network elements and the requirement for a physical install per appliance per site.
NFV is complementary to SDN and will be a standards-based framework to leverage standard IT virtualisation technology in telecom infrastructure.
Additional findings from IDC’s research include the following:
* Time to service agility is a key driver for SDN concepts;
* Lowering OPEX spend is a bigger driver than lowering CAPEX for CSPs; and
* Network Function Virtualization and SDN will emerge as key components of both CSPs service strategies and telecom networking vendor’s product strategies.