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Monday, December 29, 2014

2015: The year SDN and NFV go mainstream

In 2015, we expect to see organizations begin to take steps to truly embrace software defined networking (SDN) and its sibling – network functions virtualization (NFV). What other technologies and trends might we see in 2015?

Much of 2014 was spent discussing software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), and other “new” networking technologies. We also heard debates about the merits of the Internet of Things and what it will do for the world; we wondered whether the Apple Watch would drive an uptick in smart wearables. 2014 was, to an extent, the year of chatter.

We spent a lot of time defining SDN at forums and forming new standards bodies, but it was not uncommon to hear customers, media, and service providers ask for something tangible amid the discussion of its benefits. After all, where were the mass deployments?

In short, 2014 was the year we strategically moved pieces around the board, but never reached the point of calling “checkmate.”

So will 2015 offer more of the same, or will we see winners emerge and the new networking ecosystem take shape?

SDN and NFV to crack ground in the telecommunications market

It’s safe to say the SDN and NFV era is still in its infancy. That will soon change, according to Infonetics Research’s “2014 SDN Strategies: North American Enterprise” survey, which estimates that 87% of U.S. businesses intend to have SDN live in their data centers by 2016. From that perspective, SDN is well on its way.

These deployments have kept the hype somewhat subdued, but this is the most transformative technology we have developed in decades, and 10 years down the line – maybe even sooner – SDN will simply be known as “networking.” In 2015, the technology will begin the journey down that path with the first deployments of SDN in telco networks across the globe. This will be a huge step and could push SDN toward achieving critical mass; we expect to even see SDN deployed on global submarine networks to enable more dynamic services than anything available in the past.

We will also begin to see NFV become a technology du jour. There were NFV whispers in 2014, but 2015 promises to put the discussion on the map in the same way SDN was during the past 12 months. Once people see the tangible results of what software can do for a network, it’s only a matter of time before people begin to see the benefits of replacing hardware functions with virtualized equivalents. Infonetics research backs up these predictions in its “Carrier SDN and NFV Hardware and Software Market Size and Forecast” report, which predicts that the NFV and SDN markets will reach $11 billion globally in 2018. Along with the major telcos announcing SDN deployments, we’ll also see initial NFV deployments in high-touch enterprises.

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