Carriers Looking for Major Benefits From SDN & NFV Starting in 2015, Heavy Reading Finds

SDN and NFV will help telcos cut costs and simplify service creation, but most don't expect much impact until 2015, new report says

Jul 30, 2013

NEW YORK, July 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) have the potential to transform carrier networks and IT, but mainstream commercial deployment is unlikely to start before 2015, according to a major new report from Heavy Reading (, the research division of Light Reading (

SDN & NFV: A Revolution in the Making presents Heavy Reading's current thinking regarding SDN and NFV from a variety of perspectives, leveraging contributions from five Heavy Reading senior analysts. The report analyzes network operator plans and attitudes toward SDN and NFV; explores the implications of SDN and OpenFlow on optical networking technology; examines the orchestration and management layers that will be critical to the success of NFV and SDN; and details the impact of SDN on application delivery controllers (ADCs) in the data center.

The report is partially based on two major surveys conducted by Heavy Reading over the past six months. In the first survey, we interviewed 27 senior executives and strategists working at 18 network operators – mainly large Tier 1 operators, but also some smaller operators, especially in the enterprise/wholesale sector – to gauge opinions and plans for SDN and NFV. In the second survey, we sought the views of operator members of Heavy Reading's Ethernet & SDN Executive Council, including CTOs, VPs of network engineering and executives in product marketing and management.

"According to Heavy Reading surveys, operators believe SDN and NFV can help them cut both capex – using generic servers with high utilization – and opex – with real-time, automated OSS based on SDN – while also providing a better environment for new service creation," notes Graham Finnie, Chief Analyst of Heavy Reading and co-author of the report. "Many added that the key benefit of NFV would be shorter and easier product upgrade and replacement cycles."

However, only 13 percent of operators in our survey said that SDN would "significantly impact" the competitive landscape for Ethernet, IP and wavelength services before the end of 2014, Finnie explains. "The vast majority of respondents said that less than 10 percent of revenue would come from running these services on an SDN architecture in the next 18 months. However, 2015 is seen as the big transition year, with a significant revenue shift to SDN-based services starting then."

Key findings of SDN & NFV: A Revolution in the Making include the following:

Within operators, three distinct groups have a clear interest in NFV and SDN, but are not necessarily coordinating their efforts. These groups are cloud ICT, which often has the strongest interest in SDN; networks, which is focused mainly on NFV at present; and internal IT, which is hampered by a highly fragmented OSS legacy and telco IT's "Cinderella" status.

Many operators believe they can get big savings from virtualizing network functions and deploying them on generic x86 hardware. However, there is also a widespread acknowledgment that some functions can't yet be shifted to this kind of server. This remains a controversial area in the industry.

Initial interest in virtualization is driving some early trials and commercial deployments. However, mainstream commercial deployment of virtualized functions is unlikely to start before 2015 – or perhaps later, among more cautious operators.

Operators are prepared to consider startup SDN/NFV suppliers. This is especially likely if their existing vendors don't have a convincing roadmap for virtualization. However, existing suppliers will likely be preferred for core functions by many, and others will encourage ecosystems of established and startup vendors.

SDN & NFV: A Revolution in the Making costs $3,995 and is published in PDF format. The price includes an enterprise license covering all of the employees at the purchaser's company.

The report also is available as part of Heavy Reading's new SDN & NFV Total Access Service, which gives subscribers a direct pipeline to all Heavy Reading research reports covering SDN and NFV, including technology updates, market sizing, network operator survey reports and supplier competitive analyses. Perspectives cover the entire telecom ecosystem, including real and potential impacts on IP network transformation, next-gen services, optical deployments, data center initiatives, OSS/BSS deployments and more.

For additional information, or to request a free executive summary of this report, please contact:

David Williams
Global Director of Sales, Research
Heavy Reading

Press/analyst contact:
Jennifer Baker
Marketing Director, Light Reading Communications Network

About Heavy Reading (

Heavy Reading is an independent research organization offering deep analysis of emerging telecom trends to network operators, technology suppliers, and investors. Its product portfolio includes in-depth reports that address critical next-generation technology and service issues, market trackers that focus on the telecom industry's most critical technology sectors, exclusive worldwide surveys of network operator decision-makers that identify future purchasing and deployment plans, and a rich array of custom and consulting services that give clients the market intelligence needed to compete successfully in the global telecom industry. As a division of UBM Tech (, Heavy Reading contributes to the only integrated business information platform serving the global communications industry.

SOURCE Heavy Reading