2015: A new era for networks


Ciena gives TechWeekEurope its thoughts on what the next 12 months have in store for the networks world

Article contributed by Benoit de la Tour, Vice President and General Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa, at Ciena


Having been in the technology business for nearly two decades I’ve seen many a trend come and go, however, the pace of change is accelerating, especially as we move to a more software enabled world.  In 2015 we have the opportunity to witness a sea of change across Europe’s telecom landscape. The rise of software and the move to on-demand and virtualised services means operators and content providers can more easily work in concert to form new, mutually beneficial commercial partnerships that further enhance their capabilities as leading innovation enablers.

  • SDN and NFV grow up

In 2014 we saw the rise of software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV). We expect both of these technologies to escalate in 2015, with many providers moving beyond theory and testing to implementation.  The NFV ecosystem will also grow considerably, becoming a greater opportunity not only for operators, but also for the associated operational support ecosystem – such as those involved in billing, customer service management and troubleshooting.

We will see providers take greater advantage of standardised virtual appliances at the network edge and in customer premise equipment (CPE), radically transforming the way in which they do business.  This critical transformation will facilitate more opportunities for value added services, Networking globedeepen their end-customer relationships and enable new business models such as ‘try before you buy’  and  ‘pay as you earn’ to be realised. This virtualisation of important network functions will allow operators to instantly expand or remove new network services and appliance functionality, such as firewalling, load balancing and WAN optimisation in an on-demand manner in contrast to having to commit and engage in a lengthy process of hardware installation.

NFV will also enable network operators to take on more system integration responsibilities, and in cases where they own datacenters, provide opportunities for hosted NFV solutions / services for end-customers.

  • Enterprises will embrace NFV

It will not be long before tech-savvy, bold enterprises start to realise the benefits made possible by NFV.  Put simply: NFV reduces the hardware, power, and space requirements to deploy network functions such as routing, firewalls or encryption; reducing provisioning times; enabling Networking switchboardsmaller fault domains; and making the applications portable and upgradeable with software – helping  to reduce capital and operational costs while empowering enterprises to get the most agility out of their cloud investments.

  • SDN gets a standard framework

Whilst 2014 saw the rise of SDN, 2015 will be the year of the first practical deployments, moving beyond proprietary implementations and private proof of concept trials into the live network. These deployments will focus on the delivery on differentiated SDN enabled, application aware, on-demand connectivity services. At the same time, increased vendor engagement will ensure greater equipment interoperability and, critically, integration across multiple network layers. The more agile vendors will leverage successful deployments and highlight the benefits of greater intelligence and analytics on network performance as they bring SDN products to market.

  • All eyes Over-The-Top

There is a clear shift in TV viewing habits as more people watch online across a variety of devices. So it’s not surprising to see that average household bandwidth requirements are poised to increase by 31% annually over the next five years. In fact, recent ACG research showed that over the top (OTT) unicast video traffic is predicted to be 4.6 times greater than traditional multicast traffic by 2018.

As OTT providers depend on the quality of the end-user experience, their success and exponential growth now means that they rely on carriers and partners who share their vision and Tablet TVvalues.  2015 will see a shift from the current antagonistic approach between operators and OTT content providers to more cooperation; seeing the forging of alliances and the creation of mutually beneficial commercial models.  In addition, as traffic flows continue to rise, OTT players will need to evaluate the pros and cons of ‘buying vs. leasing’ network capacity in 2015.

  • Small cells and WiFi off-load become big news

2015 will be an innovative year for telecoms.  We can expect to see networks become more agile and flexible as operators embrace on-demand capabilities. At the same time rapid adoption of software and virtualisation will transform service delivery and increase increased and more efficient control across the wide area network.

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