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Five Service Provider Benefits.

Jan 21, 2015

Dan Pitt discusses the top benefits of SDN for service providers. 

My most recent contributed article for Global Telecoms Business examines the top five benefits that service providers can experience by adopting SDN. Below is an excerpt from that piece, and the full article can be found here.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is making its presence known within the industry, and has struck a chord with service providers. While it may seem as though NFV is the new black for service providers, SDN is acknowledged to be an essential foundation of NFV. It is possible to deploy NFV without SDN, but not having SDN puts a restriction on how far changing the network can go.

With SDN implementation, service providers have the ability to address many of the pain points currently plaguing their networks, and provide both their own internal operators and their enterprise customers with numerous benefits. Benefits that SDN can provide include lowered costs, more rapid deployment of new services, better video optimization, and the ability to better serve customers at a higher and more rapid level.

Video Optimization
According to the latest Citrix Mobile Analytics Report, on an average day 52 percent of mobile data traffic is video. The same report released in the second quarter of 2013 showed mobile network traffic associated with video represented 45 percent of mobile data traffic. That’s an increase of seven percentage points in a little under a year.

Video-based services in particular account for a large portion of the traffic, imposing significant demands for network functions such as media transcoding and content caching. With mobile video streaming being at an all-time high and expected to grow more, the application of SDN and NFV to the network is the best route for telcos to efficiently impact their business and improve Quality of Experience (QoE). In particular, they can schedule or reserve capacity according to their business priorities, such as for revenue optimization, per-customer QoE, and user-platform customization.

Cost Reduction
With SDN, service providers can lower both CapEx and OpEx, reducing overall expenses significantly. A Strategy Analytics report found that for telco providers, the biggest cost savings ($1.116 billion) would come from the ability to create a single virtual network out of all the various network types within a metro area. Consolidating the traffic of wired, mobile, enterprise, and residential connections into a single virtual network would lower operation costs by allowing networks to be managed from a single console.

Rapid Deployment of New Services
More than any other reason for adopting SDN, dramatically increasing service and revenue velocity is the number one reason service providers embrace SDN. Small and large enterprises alike have been drawn to the cloud services of the over-the-top providers, and the service providers have the infrastructure to compete on a global scale if they embody SDN in their internal clouds and their external cloud and WAN services.

Moving Away From Proprietary Hardware
Current hardware is expensive to buy, manage, and support when a service provider is locked into a single vendor. A key factor is the bundling of the control software, which has been as proprietary, with the hardware. With SDN, service providers can move away from these proprietary hardware (and software) expenses. SDN accelerates innovation by breaking the bond between proprietary hardware and control and application software. Standards such as OpenFlow® allow for an open, robust SDN architecture that enables multi-vendor interoperability. Most importantly, the separation of forwarding (hardware) from control (remote software) fosters the acceleration of high-performance packet processing in the forwarding plane at diminishing cost along with the far-greater flexibility in the control and management planes to meet the individual needs of different operators and applications.

Better Visualization of the Network
Being able to visualize the network is crucial for service providers. With SDN, service providers can gain insight into the network’s overall functioning, and be able to understand conditions and issues in the network. Being able to track network conditions will help pinpoint and remedy problems or insert services to available capacity. With better network visualization, service providers are able to get down to the individual application flows, and accelerate the speed of troubleshooting.

For more, read the article on Global Telecoms Business, starting on page 54.

– Dan Pitt, Executive Director