SDN and NFV Product Assessments – How to Boil the Ocean Using Small Pots?

Jason Marcheck
Jason Marcheck

Summary Bullets:

  • Current Analysis is known for side-by-side product comparisons; this can be problematic when comparisons need to be made between broadly varying solutions.
  • The first step in making meaningful comparisons is framing broad, yet meaningful dimensions for comparative analysis.

In the large and complex realm of telecom networking, seemingly overwhelming tasks are often related in daunting and, sometimes, gross metaphors. Case in point, “boiling the ocean” seems like a hard, but perhaps not completely distasteful task (especially if armed with some coconut oil, a large-brimmed hat and, ideally, a frozen drink). On the other hand, making the analogy to “how to eat an elephant” just seems nasty. Even hungry lions tend to shy away from that job. Nevertheless, however it gets epitomized, the concept of dealing with a monumental task is common in the telecom world. What’s more, it’s something the telecom world is faced with as we enter the home stretch of 2014.

How to define – and, in the process, compare – solutions in the vast space that had been allocated to the carrier SDN and/or NFV market?

It’s not an easy undertaking. Yet, armed (unfortunately) not with coconut oil but rather a large pool of potential product categories, we at Current Analysis will be setting about the task of boiling this ocean. (Note to elephant lovers: No animals will be harmed in the production of our content.)

We Need Bigger Pots

The first job is to define how we see the market.

Here, the standards bodies, such as ETSI’s Network Functions Industry Specification Group (NFV ISG), have done a good bit of our work for us, and we will track industry definitions wherever possible. Going further, what we assess will be a function of what carriers are most interested in deploying and when. To this end, we expect increasingly granular research on topics that can be broadly categorized as follows:

  • “Carrier” SDN: As far as SDN is concerned, making sense of specialized controllers and where these various “controllers” will sit in the network is a big part of the fight. We’ll be doing that, in the form of reports similar to this one that we wrote way back in carrier SDN’s infancy.
  • Orchestration and Infrastructure Management: Perhaps the most talked about topic of late is how and where management and orchestration should reside. We’ve had plenty to say, notably on this blog. As we move forward, approaches to management and orchestration will be a major focus of our analysis.
  • VNFs: The development and key purchase criteria around individual virtualized network functions use cases – vCPE, vEPC, vIMS, vOSS, vSBC, etc. – that operators have deemed important are rapidly becoming the “battleground” on which early NFV momentum will be won. As such, we will be doing our part to examine how the solutions supplied are stacking up along these lines.
  • Beyond labeling what kit goes into which pot, there will also be a lot to look at in terms of how newer market entrants will be putting pressure on established players. This is any market analyst firm’s equivalent of finding money in the pocket of your jeans. Accordingly, we will be making this a critical aspect of our coverage as it evolves.

So, as we move forward with this process, Current Analysis subscribers can expect to see an uptick in analysis aimed specifically at comparing products, and companies, along these lines. Check your alerts, because these reports will be coming soon. If you’re reading this, you’re not a Current Analysis subscriber, and you need to know how to get a subscription, don’t worry… that’s an elephant we’ll gladly help you eat.

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