Bridging the Operational Gap to Accelerate NFV Deployment

New case study-based white paper offers valuable insights for CSPs on accelerating NFV deployment and achieving operational excellence.

Welcome to the first of a 4-part blog series on NFV deployments.The blogs will provide additional perspective on our newly released white paper, which brings the operational challenges of NFV deployments to life through three real-world examples – detailing both where they went awry and how applying a new agile methodology would have mitigated it. I encourage you to check it out.

In 2016, AT&T Labs predicted that adopting Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN) would save the company a whopping 40-50% in OPEX in coming years.

One year into its 3-year journey to virtualize 75% of its network by 2020, the company reports significant cost savings – and that’s not all. Some 1,700 businesses are using new AT&T FlexWare NFV/SDN devices and services to set up multiple Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), such as bandwidth management, virtual routers, firewalls, and other security applications on AT&T’s managed network.

Not Just a Business Opportunity—Business Survival

Like AT&T, mobile and fixed-line Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are investing in NFV/SDN to reduce CAPEX and OPEX and enable new kinds of revenue-producing services. In fact, SNS Research estimates that CSP NFV/SDN investments will rise to nearly $22 Billion by the end of 2020.

But the business case of NFV/SDN goes beyond top- and bottom-line improvements. As the following chart illustrates, CSP business survival depends on quick migration to a new business and cost models capable of delivering new kinds of added-value, on-demand services at web scale. In short, CSPs must emulate cloud service provider models to be able to compete against them and other emerging market entrants.


With NFV/SDN, CSPs can leverage agility, dynamic scaling, and efficiency advantages similar to those that have been realized in IT through infrastructure virtualization and software-defined technologies.

Operators gain the flexibility to efficiently shift network capacity to where it is most needed, in order to deliver the new kinds of services that customers are demanding. It enables CSPs to keep pace with rapidly evolving technologies, by allowing changes to underlying infrastructure without impacting customer experience.

Arrested Deployment

Despite the compelling business case and investments in NFV/SDN to-date, CSPs have been slow to reap expected benefits. Often the trouble is in moving from proof-of-concept and lab evaluations into field trials and commercial deployments.

Research outlined in a new white paper on accelerating NFV deployment finds that a major obstacle to the successful deployment of dynamic, software-controlled network functions has been operational – specifically, legacy domain- and node-based silos of IT and network management that lack the service-oriented processes, skillsets and organizational structures and metrics to successfully deploy and operate NFV/SDN.

Bridging the IT/Network Operations Gap

Having personally, in my past professional life, led both Network Operations responsible for core network functions – and IT Operations responsible for the IT systems that network organizations depend on – I can attest that:

  • Successful NFV/SDN service operations require both IT and network expertise, applied in new ways
  • NFV/SDN operations challenge both: traditional IT operations and traditional network operations
  • The gap between IT and network operations is both practical and cultural – each is accustomed to dealing with different kinds of workloads/applications, resiliency mechanisms, regulatory requirements and ecosystems (e.g., (OSS/BSS vs. ERP); and each perceives that the other “goes about things in the wrong way”

Read All About It

To delve deeper into these issues – and learn about agile approaches to operating model transformation critical to NFV/SDN success – I invite you to download our new Dell EMC white paper Bridging the IT/Network Operations Gap to Accelerate NFV Deployment and Achieve Operational Excellence

Based on research with MST Consulting and Dell EMC experience with than 2,000 successful cloud implementations, the paper describes methodologies that can mitigate CSP challenges and includes NFV case studies that can help CSPs avoid missteps and gain a new perspective on the right next step for their company.

Next time:  Failure to Migrate: A Case Study in NFV Deployment

Today’s Travel Tip

For those headed to Barcelona, here are my top 4 must-see sights:

  • La Sagrada Familia – Gaudi’s spectacular basilica that has been under construction since 1882
  • The Gothic Quarter with the Barcelona Cathedral
  • Picasso Museum – also in the Gothic Quarter
  • Las Ramblas – for shopping, restaurants or just people watching

About the Author: Laddie Suk

Laddie leads a cross-functional Dell Technologies Consulting team focused on digital transformation and industry solutions. He is a seasoned industry veteran with deep experience across multiple industries, solutions, and technologies. As a former Verizon Network CIO and Network Executive at AT&T and Bell Labs, he has extensive hands-on experience in leading strategic network and IT development projects and managing communication service provider environments. He has also led strategic and tactical engagements in network transformation, IT transformation, and business process and performance improvement for clients throughout the Americas.
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