As readers of this blog know, I have been travelling to conferences to attend, speak, and have in-depth discussions. One item I am talking about, and asking about, and interfacing with people about is NFV. Everyone gets that NFV can reduce CAPEX and OPEX. The telcos get it, and believe me, the vendors get it as it means reduced revenues, and changes in their business models if they have predominantly been hardware infrastructure suppliers. But the real jewel of NFV is that it can accelerate new services.
Accelerating new services is important on a few fronts. It has been widely documented that the telcos are experiencing reduced revenue, or at least reduced revenue growth, due to various social media applications (such as WhatsApp, and LINE) that run on their networks. In other words, their voice and messaging revenues are declining, and being replaced by data revenue because of the applications that run over the data part of the network. One way to get back to revenue growth would be to “own” the applications that run on the data network. In other words, offer their own OTT apps. WebRTC, as I’ve written before, is potentially an important aspect to offering exciting new applications. So, getting any new services out there is critical.
Getting them out there as fast as possible is also critical. Software based VNFs will enable deployment of new, innovative, revenue-generating services faster. Adding and testing a new software-based service could shave months off the time required to roll it out, and significantly reduce upfront costs compared to traditional methods that involve deploying network functions on purpose-built hardware. Developers can experiment with, and create new network-based hardware applications because functionality can be provisioned and put online and offline on demand, rather than racking and tacking new hardware for this purpose. Moving network functionality to software enables SPs to increase the rate and number of targeted services they can roll out, and reduce the cost of “getting it wrong”.