A recent survey by IHS Markit found that the top drivers for service providers' SDN investments and deployments were simplification and automation of network and service provisioning along with service automation.
The early promise of SDN was its ability to reduce capex, and while that's still on the table, SDN has evolved into specific customer-facing use cases and services.
Going beyond the "classic" SDN of the early days, the next phase includes SDN capabilities that can deliver use cases beyond network resource management, including customer-focused applications such as virtualized CPE. In this year's survey, service providers rated vCPE managed services as the top SDN/NFV application for producing new sources of revenue.
Top $ Drivers for SDN/NFV
By separating the control plane from the forwarding plane, SDN can enable service agility, faster time to revenue, operational efficiencies, and the aforementioned capex savings.
By the end of next year, survey respondents’ top three SDN-targeted network domains for deployments were inside data centers, between data centers and access for businesses.
IHS Markit's report also said that 75% of the service providers from around the globe that took part in the survey would have either already deployed or will deploy SDN this year, with all of them saying they plan to deploy it at some point.
said that service providers were kicking the tires on SDN by creating "contained domains" in their networks in order to trial and test their initial deployments. While SDN is branching out into new customer-facing use cases, such as Layer 2 and Layer 3 VPN services, it would be "many years" before large chunks of their networks were controlled by SDN, according to IHS.
One of the big hurdles for large-scale SDN and NFV deployments is end-to-end orchestration across networks, which several open source communities are working on resolving. (See OPEN-O: Cracking the OSS Quandary, and AT&T's Rice: ECOMP Reaches Critical Mass.)
The SDN survey results mirrored similar findings from IHS Markit's NFV report last month, which said that 81% of the service providers in that survey would deploy NFV by 2017. The NFV survey cited virtualized enterprise customer premises equipment (vE-CPE) as the biggest deployment driver. (See Report: 81% of SPs Will Deploy NFV by 2017.)
For both SDN and NFV, which often are deployed in tandem, IHS Markit said many operators were moving from proof-of-concept trials to commercial deployments this year and next year.
IHS' survey was based on interviews with purchase-decision makers at 28 service providers around the world that control 53% of world’s telecom capex.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation