Report: SDN, NFV, and open source: the operator’s view

Our library of 1700 research reports is available only to our subscribers. We occasionally release ones for our larger audience to benefit from. This is one such report. If you would like access to our entire library, please subscribe here. Subscribers will have access to our 2017 editorial calendar, archived reports and video coverage from our 2016 and 2017 events.
SDN, NFV, and open source: the operator’s view by Mark Leary:
Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) represent two of the more dramatic oncoming technology shifts in networking. Both will significantly alter network designs, deployments, operations, and future networking and computing systems. They also will determine supplier and operator success (or failure) over the next five to 10 years.
As has always been the case with successful networking technologies, industry standards and open systems will play a strong role in the timely widespread adoption and ultimate success of both SDN and NFV solutions. Open source is poised to play an even more critical role in delivering on the promise of standardized and open networking.
This great promise and potential impact begs two questions. First, “Where are SDN and NFV today?” And second, “What influence will open systems and open source have on the future of SDN and NFV?”
To find answers to these questions, in December 2013 Gigaom Research ran an extensive survey of 600 operators (300 enterprises and 300 service providers) in North America. Based on findings from that survey, this research report provides key insights into the current activity and future direction of SDN and NFV advancements as well as the development and deployment of open systems and open source within SDN and NFV environments.
To read the full report click here.

Report: SDN meets the real world: implementation benefits and challenges

Our library of 1700 research reports is available only to our subscribers. We occasionally release ones for our larger audience to benefit from. This is one such report. If you would like access to our entire library, please subscribe here. Subscribers will have access to our 2017 editorial calendar, archived reports and video coverage from our 2016 and 2017 events.
SDN meets the real world: implementation benefits and challenges by Ben Kepes:
Software-defined networking (SDN) is an enabling technology shift that mimics for networking what server virtualization brought to data centers. From little more than a research project a decade or so ago, SDN has become one of the biggest trends in the data center, and for good reason. SDN allows organizations to deliver networking with the same level of flexibility and agility as virtualization has allowed them to deliver other parts of their infrastructure.
This report is aimed at both enterprise IT practitioners as well as data-center operators, and gives the audience some historical background, technical context, and specific issues to think about when in SDN.
Key highlights from this report include:

  • SDN is a trend of growing importance to anyone involved in data-center design, management, or utilization. Almost every technology vendor in the networking arena now has an “SDN story.”
  • SDN is a disruptor to traditional networking approaches. However, a hybrid approach towards SDN delivers real benefits for organizations with existing networking assets.
  • In this early stage, not surprisingly, SDN has some barriers to adoption. A hybrid approach that embraces smaller proof-of-concept trials while looking at broader deployment is the best way to approach the SDN opportunity.

To read the full report click here.

Report: How to deliver a comprehensive big data analytics framework to communication service providers

Our library of 1700 research reports is available only to our subscribers. We occasionally release ones for our larger audience to benefit from. This is one such report. If you would like access to our entire library, please subscribe here. Subscribers will have access to our 2017 editorial calendar, archived reports and video coverage from our 2016 and 2017 events.
Big Data - generic
How to deliver a comprehensive big data analytics framework to communication service providers by William McKnight:
The communications service provider (CSP) industry has undergone a dramatic shift in recent years. The traditional model of competing on subscription plans is no longer an adequate business strategy. Since most internal systems were built with this model in mind, these environments, with non-enriched, non-integrated, and latent data, fit for after-the-fact reporting, are struggling to keep up with the changes.
This research report will explain how CSPs establish a framework for their analytics as well as review the business drivers for telcos and the key benefits that big data analytics provide. It will also address the impact of the business drivers and the advantages of streaming analytics, combined with the ability to harness big data to meet several CSP competitive requirements. It will conclude by summarizing this comprehensive big data analytics framework for CSPs.

To read the full report, click here.

Mapping Session results: IoT Security

At this year’s Structure Connect, Gigaom Research hosted a collaborative Mapping Session for conference attendees on securing the Internet of Things. Mapping Sessions tap the collective wisdom of our analysts and other thought leaders to tease out the most disruptive trends shaping a space over the next 12-24 months. We integrate feedback from these sessions into our research planning, and many of the sessions directly inform our Sector Roadmap reports.

The IoT Security Mapping Session was a success, and we thank everyone who attended for their participation. Some key themes that emerged from the session included:

Device proliferation will have a substantial destabilizing effect on security. 

Users will experience “security fatigue” as the scope of personal device management extends beyond the smartphone to watches, other wearables, household devices, and automobiles. Users cannot be expected to maintain any level of personal policy management, and it will be incumbent upon every participant in the value chain – from app developers to hardware manufacturers to network service providers – to compensate.

Developers will experience fatigue, too.

Talented developers are already in short supply, and the fragmented nature of the IoT will make this worse. While standards are in flux and every new form factor brings a unique set of requirements, developers will scramble to extend their skill sets while delivering on a growing workload, creating massive opportunities for the introduction of security holes.

Networks will stumble.

The current crop of networking options are not suitable for the types or volume of traffic the IoT will create in just a few years. The IoT will generate vastly larger numbers of connections of substantially smaller size, with a wide variety of QoS requirements, and very different monetization allowances. New networks that rise to meet these challenges will need to be both secure and resilient, which could be a challenge for nascent technologies with an emerging revenue model.

An “awareness event” is inevitable – and positive.

A massive, damaging security meltdown is inevitable, and the participants felt that ultimately, such a breach would be positive for the security community, driving greater urgency behind open standards initiatives.

The “security underwriter” will rise.

Most of the participants agreed that there was a tremendous opportunity for a security underwriter – essentially a next-gen certificate authority – to step in and verify that  an IoT ecosystem is secure. There was less agreement on whether one party would have the resources to audit the entire chain, and everyone agreed that the challenge of certifying a constantly-changing collection of third-party APIs would be daunting.


We welcome your feedback on these and other disruptive trends. Have we missed anything that you believe will be key to shaping this market over the next two years? Continue the discussion by leaving a comment below.

Mapping session panelists.

Cormac Foster, Research Director, Gigaom Research

Rich Morrow, Analyst, Gigaom Research & Founder, quicloud

Lee Doyle, Analyst, Gigaom Research & Principal Analyst, Doyle Research

Users can chart the course of SDN at next ONUG meeting

Vendors often have their own program for new rolling out new products, driven by product development cycles, internal market research, and larger corporate strategy. But sometimes, especially in areas where the path for new technology is not well-defined, efforts led by end-user communities can provide a crucial input to shape agendas for vendors.

The Open Networking Users Group (ONUG) meeting later this month provides one such opportunity. After a productive meeting in May dedicated to improving networks at the enterprise level, the ONUG user-led community and its board of directors (which includes senior IT executives from large banks, transportation, retail, pharmaceutical and insurance companies) wants to move ahead quickly.

ONUG’s goal is to press for common approaches to facilitate the use of new open networking technologies. At the May meeting in New York, which I attended, participants selected software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN), virtual Networks/overlays, and network services virtualization as the key areas where work efforts were needed. The ONUG board prepared a report on these three areas to ensure that the agenda’s key points were given a larger audience. My sense was that many participants agreed with Prof. Doug Comer, an authority on TCP/IP protocols, that SDN and other new network architectures and services might not be ready for prime time.

What was fascinating about the May meeting was the ability to mix user contributions from larger firms and financial players. Most of the IT perspectives that were shared reflected the issues that everyone — including a number of vendors — want to address. Among them are the perception of higher costs of more traditional, less open, systems, as well as discussion of the open resources alternatives that are already available.

The upcoming October 28-29 meeting presents results from three ONUG working groups led by IT executives and also including vendors. They focused on the three key issues defined at the May meeting. There will also be a lively a debate between Prof. Comer and Paul Mockapetris of Nominum, the creator of DNS. Mockapetris is far more optimistic about employing DNS with security to strengthen networks of the future. Comer and Mockapetris will debate the winning strategy for embracing SDN.

I think there is a good chance that ONUG members will join with a selected group of vendors to begin to resolve the sticky issues needed to make SD-WAN, virtual networks/overlays, and network services virtualization more robust. This could include a series of proof-of-concept projects or collaborations to refine how to deal with inadequacies or gaps in technologies that need to mature for SDN to work.

This effort could readily complement what has recently been pushed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute and many service providers in their efforts to promote network function virtualization (NFV) as well as SDN largely from a service provider perspective. The ONUG efforts, in my opinion, could provide an interesting counterbalance to the ETSI efforts and ensure that adequate work is focused on security, interoperability, scalability, and other issues of primary importance to enterprises.

It is also likely that a few enterprises will play the role of “guinea pigs” and deploy the results of several RFQ/RFIs developed to solve problems defined in the ONUG reports. This would provide an opportunity for active engagement of enterprise IT experts and the vendor community. I believe this could make ONUG’s October meeting one of the more valuable infrastructure meetings of 2014.

This effort dovetails well with the coming publication of the Gigaom Research Sector Roadmap on SDN. The demand and awareness for SDN is high with recent surveys indicating that 87% of customers will have production deployments by next year. The market has progressed from “network controllers using the OpenFlow protocol” to a more comprehensive view that addresses specific use cases and customer needs. The Sector Roadmap will identify key issues that need to be addressed in the use of SDN in the enterprise and networking infrastructure as well as describe what players are making important contributions to the SDN marketplace.

I’m looking forward to the ONUG meeting in a couple of weeks to see how industry thought leaders will address many of the outstanding issues with SDN. It will be a great opportunity for enterprise IT users to help plot the course of an important technology as well as provide significant input into vendor thinking.

Closer IT and engineering collaboration: beyond the message from CES 2014

Although many of the countless, specific applications announced at CES 2014 won’t take off, there was a dominant theme to this year’s show, and that was that Internet-connected devices from home automation to the connected car and wearable sensors and cameras have arrived and are gaining traction.

Some implications for IT are clear, as big data will evolve to gargantuan data, and more intelligent networks will be required to handle the complexity and volume of traffic. The consumer applications are vast, as are the commercial and industrial ones. Cisco CEO John Chambers spoke at CES to the demands that he hopes will spur a new generation of growth for the dominant networking firm.

The implications for corporate IT

Corporate IT networks and processing need to be hardened, expanded, and advanced in capability to handle the new demands. Many corporate products, services and processes will be affected at some level within the next five years—which means that much product development and engineering will involve IT planning and design..

This trend will hasten and intensify the need for corporate IT and engineering to be more closely coupled  from planning through production and product support. The use of IT outsourcing will likely encompass more, integrated outsourcing of engineering design teams. Engineering will rely more upon IT network integration, and IT networks will require more engineering into the physical and logical aspects of products and production systems.

A role for integrated engineering and IT outsourcing

Outsourcers such as India-based HCL Technologies have been investing for a number of years in integrated IT and engineering services; and they have built teams of engineers and IT specialists in lower-cost, offshore locations in India and APAC that are specialized within specific industries.

Among the implications are the following:

  • All firms will need to more closely coordinate their product planning and engineering functions with their corporate IT.
  • More IT outsourcers will add or integrate with engineering expertise in order to provide seamless systems development and, ultimately, maintenance services.
  • U.S.-based firms will face more competitors that rely on offshore engineering, thus putting pressure on the cost and agility with which they are able to integrate IT and engineering for an increasing number of products and processes.
  • The flexibility of emerging software-defined network (SDN) technology, which enables easier updating of network resources, will in some cases provide an advantage in adapting to support new devices and services.
  • Firms that keep both engineering and integrated engineering and IT processes in-house, will need to leverage the other advantages to be gained from the close interdepartmental cooperation (e.g., with manufacturing, sales and services) that is possible with an onshore approach.

The CES spotlight may not have shone on enterprise engineering departments directly, but attention should be paid to the new IT, engineering, and organizational challenges to support a dramatic increasr in the number of Internet-connected devices for consumer, commercial, and industrial functions.

The cable-ized future of broadband

The channel-ization of the internet would make it easier to port the pay-TV business model — for better or worse — to broadband platforms.