How SDN and NFV are Altering the Communication Service Provider Landscape

January 31st, 2020 by · Leave a Comment

This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Dean Campbell, LightRiver

From the widespread adoption of cloud computing to the imminent arrival of 5G and the surge of data traffic expected from the Internet of Things (IoT), Communication Service Provider (CSP) networks are being pushed to their limits and require a whole new approach to their network architecture. For many of these CSPs, software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) are the answer.

SDN has changed the industry by decoupling network controls from hardware and allowing the network to be managed by a much more flexible software layer. SDN-deployed networks utilize intelligent network automation to adapt to changing conditions, such as auto-detecting new networks or changes to the network, without the need for human intervention. NFV complements SDN and focuses on optimizing the network services through virtualized network applications such as switching, routing and firewalls.

CSPs are seeing immediate benefits with faster service activation, network and hardware optimization, continuous monitoring and predictive analytics to achieve enhanced performance, and reduced capital expenditures. Most importantly, service providers are able to reduce the number of network outages by deploying SDN to automatically detect, predict and resolve network performance issues.

Rising Trends: SD-WAN’s Role in the Internet of Things

The rising adoption of multi-cloud in enterprise networking has driven the demand for SD-WAN, a software application that acts as a router, with the ability to create tunnels across the network, all managed from a single controlling application. SD-WAN avoids SDN complexity by working at a higher layer in the communications stack, where significant standardization is in place (L3) and its centralized controller is GUI-based, making provisioning services point-n-click. With SD-WAN, service providers only have to manage their own end points instead of all the nodes in the path, so there is limited complexity and the controller automatically provisions edge nodes, so turn up can be zero-touch-provisioning.

With the explosive growth of IoT, CSP’s are preparing their networks now to support future edge compute use cases, as this is a path to increased revenue in the future. Edge compute allows for scaling applications efficiently and placing them where needed in an environment where low-latency apps can run close to the user.

Meanwhile, CSP’s have increasingly more access to 5G as it launches across the country and enables almost anything to be connected to a broadband connection at any time. This opens the floodgates for devices to utilize networks to communicate, and allows almost any device to be made “smart”.

The combination of SDN/NFV with SD-WAN, edge computing and 5G has become a critical enabler of IoT. Edge computing has proven to meet the needs of applications for reliable, secure, real-time high performance, yet it also introduces a new level of complexity with the amount of computing, storage allocation and open-source third-party applications. This is where SDN/NFV comes into the picture and simplifies the network management by supporting an open environment that allows for tools and software across many hardware platforms to connect to IoT more effectively and ensure a fast, flexible and secure network. SD-WAN comes into play by simplifying communication to end points, eliminating the need to manually provision and support hundreds of 1000’s of end points. Lastly, 5G ensures that all IoT devices can be connected without a reliance on wires.


Dean Campbell, CTO of LightRiver

With LightRiver since 2004, as Chief Technology Officer, Dean is responsible for the development of LightRiver’s product and technology solutions portfolio, translating complex solutions into clear value propositions relevant to LightRiver markets. He leads the Pre-sales Engineering and the Project Management teams and maintains technical relationships with LightRiver’s vendor partners. Throughout his career, Dean’s focus on technology as an enabler has always been paired with the recognition that the human side of the equation is equally important.

Dean brings over 20 years of IT management, software applications development, and large-scale data-networking experience to LightRiver, has held leadership roles across the technology value chain, and was a pioneer in the development of E-commerce infrastructures, working with established and start-up organizations.

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Categories: Industry Viewpoint · SDN

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