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Why did operator NFV adoption lag so much?

NFV adoption was hampered by high costs and deployment issues, according to one industry insider. Also, learn about the latest on network security and industry hype.

Network functions virtualization, or NFV, was supposed to be the next big thing in networking technology. But, seven years after its introduction, NFV adoption among network operators hasn't met expectations.

Tom Nolle, an industry analyst and founder of CIMI Corp., dissected some of the reasons why network operators have shied away from fully embracing NFV. One main reason is the sometimes stiff licensing fees that virtual network functions (VNF) developers have attached to their offerings.

"On the one hand, operators expected if device vendors spun out their software features as one or more virtual functions, the function licensing would be significantly cheaper than buying the boxes would have been," he wrote in a recent blog. "That seems logical. On the other hand, the device vendors say the cost and value of their product is more tied into things like the R&D for the software and support of software-hosted features than it is in the boxes, which in many cases are simply OEMed in some form."

Onboarding VNFs, meantime, proved to be more difficult than anticipated, with the lack of a clear framework of industry-standard APIs being the chief culprit. What was needed to streamline NFV adoption, he said, was some sort of NFV platform-as-a-service definition, which would ease the integration of VNFs into operators' offerings.

"We've had clear evidence -- clear even to operators -- that the NFV process went away," Nolle said. To avoid making the same mistakes with future initiatives, the industry needs to understand what went wrong with this one, he said.

Learn about some of the other issues Nolle cited as reasons why NFV adoption has stalled among operators.

What the modern security system needs to deliver

Yes, the networking world has changed since Sun Microsystems first coined the phrase, "The network is the computer." Similarly, the role that network security plays has also changed, according to Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Jon Oltsik.

Modern security means end-to-end coverage. Network perimeter tools that merely inspect ingress and egress traffic are no longer sufficient.

"Modern network security controls must be instrumented into all network segments for inspection of east-west traffic, network communications in the cloud" and other factors, Oltsik said.

Encryption and decryption tools must also be fully implemented throughout the network. As the amount of encrypted network traffic continues to grow, network security systems have to be robust enough to inspect traffic at several control points and detect suspicious traffic without the need for decryption, Oltsik said.

Sun may be long gone, but networks remain important, Oltsik said. "A modern network security architecture ... can help organizations decrease the attack surface, improve threat detection and help mitigate cyber-risk. That's saying a lot."

Find out some of the other tasks that a modern network security system needs to perform.

5G tops Gartner Hype Cycle survey

Gartner has released its 2019 Hype Cycle for Enterprise Networking survey, and although the specifics are available only to the firm's clients, analyst Andrew Lerner did share a few details.

As one might expect, 5G is at the top of the hype heap, with multi-cloud networking and universal customer premises equipment also attracting outsized attention.

"The premise of the hype cycle is that most technological innovations progress through a pattern of overenthusiasm ... then disillusionment ... followed by eventual productivity," Lerner wrote, although some technologies don't survive the journey.

Other technologies where perceptions and reality clash include edge networking, hybrid WAN, network automation and, of course, intent-based networking.

Read what Lerner had to say about the Hype Cycle survey.

This was last published in July 2019

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