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Move Over SDN – NFV Taking the Spotlight

Energetic debates of what SDN is and the expanding scope of what it can do for our customers continue to race along in a chaotic frenzy. In addition, the overall SDN market is somewhat fragmented in terms of both vendor positioning and marketing.  Collectively, the conversation really comes down to improving business agility and the efficiencies gained in bringing new services to market. Essentially, the goal is to enable operators to make their networks and services go much faster.

While software defined networking (SDN) technologies continue to drive significant entropy in our industry, Network Function Virtualization (NFV) recently rose up and became a key focus of many discussions at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month.

Where does NFV fit?  The goal of the NFV working group is to accelerate development and deployment of interoperable network services solutions based on high volume industry standard servers.  Most services are deployed using a collection of discrete network functions that are hardwired, and difficult to reconfigure or adapt to changing user demands. Virtualization of discrete functions improves the delivery economics through more effective utilization of a collection or pool of compute resources. The Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE) takes the NFV approach even further, using programmable service chains to orchestrate and automate service creation. Cisco is a leading and contributing member of the ETSI Industry Specifications Group on NFV working to drive this important collaboration effort forward.

Recognized as one of the more intelligent and commercial free debates during MWC 2013, our own Padmasree Warrior discussed the networks of the future and the evolution to the Internet of Everything with her peers in the industry.  One of the key opportunities for operators is to monetize virtualized network and cloud services, while optimizing access, transport, and cloud infrastructure.  All of the panelists identified NFV as one of the enabling technologies to transform the business economics of the operators.  A highlight of the discussion was the road ahead for our operators to capture these exciting new opportunities and the innovations that we are building to accelerate this transformation of their businesses.

We continue to evolve and enhance the capabilities of our multi-layered Cisco ONE software based approach to programmability, virtualization, and orchestration that encompass a growing list of use cases and new market opportunities for mobility, video, and collaboration services.  Recently, we introduced the Cisco Quantum software suite, an innovative new component of our Cisco ONE framework for the delivery of new network services. Cisco Quantum™ intelligent software currently includes self-optimizing network (SON) capabilities, real-time analytics, policy, orchestration, and abstraction functions that work together via open APIs with the application environment to enable an elastic and virtualized infrastructure not just in the data center, but throughout the wide area and radio access networks.  These Cisco technologies enable service providers to capture new business opportunities while deliver new, better and more personalized connected experiences and monetize “data in motion” as we rapidly move towards the Internet of Everything.

Within her networks of the future presentation, Padmasree also described how Cisco Quantum™ plays a key role and building block in the evolution of our Cisco ONE framework illustrated below from a functional software architecture perspective.    Essentially, many of the Cisco Quantum™ capabilities enhance the closed bi-directional feedback loop to bring the untapped value of the intelligent network to the applications environment.

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While both SDN and NFV may have captured the spotlight of our attention, we must also continue to collaborate with our customers to simplify their service creation and deployment processes with orchestration and automation capabilities that accelerate time to revenue.  Be sure to join us along with our industry colleagues at the SDN 2013 Summit in Paris next week to continue our dialogue and move forward on this exciting journey.  Hang on and enjoy the ride in the fast lane…

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