While there are still operational obstacles to overcome in the short term, 81% of the service providers that took part in a recent survey said they would deploy NFV by 2017.
The IHS Markit survey also said that 59% of the service providers that were surveyed have deployed, or will deploy, NFV this year. IHS' survey was comprised of "purchase-decision makers" from 27 service providers from around the world.
Also in 2016, "many" service providers are moving beyond their NFV proof-of-concept (PoC) lab tests and trials to working with vendors that are developing and productizing the software, which is being deployed commercially. Within that context, IHS also noted that a lack of carrier-grade products and integrating NFV into existing products were the biggest stumbling blocks for the majority of the survey respondents.
In a story by Light Reading's Editor-at-Large Carol Wilson, CenturyLink's Bill O'Brian, director of Adaptive Platforms, said looking for a single vendor for NFV and SDN solutions won't work in the long run because no single vendor can solve all of the integration issues. (See SPs on SDN: This Stuff Ain't Easy.)
O'Brian also stressed that service providers needed to invest time and effort into their own SDN/NFV platforms and teams, which coincided with the results of a Telco Transformation poll. (See TT Poll: CSPs Should Use Their Own Teams for NFV.)
While implementing NFV is still a tall order for most service providers, the IHS survey said service providers' perceptions of it were changing. The biggest barrier for service providers in 2014 was OSS/BSS, but that has shifted over the past two years. In 2015 and 2016, the top barriers -- integrating NFV into existing networks and non-carrier-grade products -- indicated that carriers were serious about deploying NFV, according to IHS' research.
The big driver of early NFV deployments over the next year, and overall, will be for business virtualized enterprise customer premises equipment (vE-CPE), also known as vBranch or enterprise vCPE. On the revenue-generating front, service providers see the immediate benefit of vE-CPE because they can replace physical CPEs with software in order to launch new services faster.
NFV Work Out
IHS Markit noted that the industry was still in the early stages of a long-term transition to SDN and NFV-based networks, but in the meantime, as Wilson wrote in her story, there are no short cuts or off-the-shelf solutions for automating network operations and improving services.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation