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Orchestration for NFV: Specialists Carve Out a Niche
Among the reasons that network operators initiated the network functions virtualization (NFV) push was to decouple software from hardware with the aim of reducing capex and enabling more rapid deployment of network functions that would allow innovative new services to be created and rolled out to customers. Wrapped up in these objectives was the ability to choose network functions from anyone that could provide them to run in virtualized form on standard hardware. This, in theory, opens the door to smaller developers of network functions to sell to network operators where they would have had little realistic chance of doing so in the past.

While the intention was that it would be the virtualized network functions (VNFs) that might be provided by a wide range of vendors, in fact the infrastructure and management of the virtualized network itself may end up being provided by companies that are not traditionally among the biggest suppliers to telcos and other communications service providers. The argument goes that if an operator is fundamentally rethinking how its network is built and managed then established supply relationships need to be reviewed.

When thinking about how virtualized infrastructure and network functions will be managed and orchestrated, there is not only one game in town operators have existing and complex collections of operations support systems (OSSs) and business support systems (BSSs) and will be pragmatic about changing mission-critical parts of their infrastructure. "Big bang" transformations are risky and expensive.

It is undoubtedly the case that the vendors whose NFV orchestration solutions most closely match the functionality specifications outlined in ETSI's standards documents are the large network equipment providers and biggest OSS/BSS companies. But these are not necessarily the vendors with the greatest experience at management and orchestration of services running on virtualized infrastructure. Within the data center and at the WAN edge other equipment vendors have been developing ways of orchestrating resources and services independently of the ETSI NFV MANO definitions.

The NFV orchestration market is still evolving. During 2015 it will become much clearer whether the biggest players will take a grip on the market, or whether the specialists and smaller vendors will be able to expand out of their niches and develop a platform play that encompasses NFV. If they can't, but their technology is sound, then expect merger and acquisition activity.

Orchestration for NFV: Specialists Carve Out a Niche examines how smaller and specialist vendors of network equipment and OSS/BSS are approaching the challenge of delivering solutions for NFV orchestration. The report looks at the work that is being done to advance the technical and commercial cases for NFV among operators, and where smaller and specialist vendors fit in. Finally, it suggests how these vendors compete against the network equipment providers and larger OSS/BSS players, and profiles nine leading specialist vendors.
Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (spiti0415_toc.pdf)
Smaller and specialist vendors approach NFV orchestration from different perspectives, and this shows through in the language they use and the scope of their ambitions. Data center infrastructure and cloud service management vendors often don't use ETSI's language of NFV orchestration, and while we perceive that this is changing it is still evidence of a gap between the data center/cloud/IT world and the world of the telecom network. Not all smaller software vendors yet fully embrace the ETSI NFV MANO reference architecture, but focus on explaining in general terms how their existing solutions fulfil or support necessary functionality. The way equipment vendors' solutions are moving into the NFV orchestration space is illustrated in the following excerpt.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies profiled in this report include: Amartus Ltd.; Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD); Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN); Comptel Corp. (Nasdaq: OMX); Cyan Inc.(NYSE: CYNI); Extreme Networks (Nasdaq: EXTR); Nakina Systems; Overture Networks; and Telco Systems Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of BATM Advanced Communications Ltd. (LSE: BVC).
Total pages: 20
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