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3 Paths to NFV Success … or How to Tame the NFV/SDN Beast

When you are on a journey to NFV/SDN transformation, sometimes you may feel you are trying to wrestle a bear. Research interviews with your service provider peers uncovered some of the ways they have tamed the grizzly challenges faced on this journey.

What we found is that service providers most often chose one of three pathways for their transformation journeys. However, most had to manage elements from each of the three at some point. The three pathways are listed below.

NFV / SDN Transformation Pathways

  1. Technology Evolution
  2. Service-led Innovation
  3. Organizational Transformation

When choosing a path of technology evolution, you attempt to bound the problem by implementing NFV for a small set of functions or subsystems. This approach enables you to limit risks and is not typically dependent on broad organizational involvement or change. You can often build the business case to address a specific need like virtual Evolved Packet Core. With such an approach, though, you might ignore the ultimate need to break down silos among teams as new technologies blur boundaries. Also, measuring success may require you to develop new KPIs.

You can approach NFV with a more strategic eye toward what your customers want from your service offerings. Service-led innovation allows your business opportunity to drive the requirements for the technology you employ. You focus on delivering the business outcomes your customers want. For example, businesses may be seeking simplicity, self-service, and lower costs from a managed service like SD-WAN. You select the functions, automation, and deployment model to deliver those outcomes and to meet your agility and business model needs. To drive market penetration, though, you may need to educate customers on how they can best take advantage of your new services offer.

The third pathway starts with full-fledged organizational transformation. Moving more holistically to an NFV and SDN environment means changing organizational culture, up-skilling your talent pool, and operating more like a web company. Your teams need to understand how the changes help you compete, help them develop and grow, and help build a foundation for delivering future services. You need to bring them on the journey with you.

The research also revealed the top goals SPs have for NFV and SDN. First and foremost, service providers seek greater agility. They need this to compete more effectively and to respond more rapidly to customer needs and market opportunities. The chart below identifies other key reasons SPs are building their futures on NFV and SDN.

We will share more highlights from this research in the coming weeks.  We will delve more into the challenges SPs face and many of the ways they have overcome them.  In the meantime, you can download the report.

Sidney Kriger

Sidney Kriger is the Senior Manager of Business & Technology Architectures in Cisco Systems’ worldwide service provider marketing group. He and his team are responsible for evaluating and quantifying the economic benefits that service providers can gain by deploying Cisco solutions.