I D C T E C H N O L O G Y S P O T L I G H T. L e ve r a g i n g N e tw o r k Virtualization for B u s i n e s s D i fferentiation

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1 I D C T E C H N O L O G Y S P O T L I G H T L e ve r a g i n g N e tw o r k Virtualization for B u s i n e s s D i fferentiation July 2014 Adapted from The Network Virtualization Evolution in Telecom by Elisabeth Rainge, et al., IDC # Sponsored by Dimension Data and Juniper Networks Network operators worldwide are engaged in trials and initiatives to virtualize their infrastructure and evolve toward a software-controlled programmable environment. The objectives are clear: agility and business differentiation. As the technologies come to market and the communications service provider (CSP) infrastructure is transformed, there are new operational, organizational, and business process challenges resulting from the blending of IT and network technologies. This paper examines these issues and looks at the role of network technology vendors Dimension Data and Juniper Networks in the strategically important CSP infrastructure market. Mix of Network and IT Expertise Is Required Taking a smart approach to virtualized infrastructures requires organizational savvy. Even though network capacity and scale remain largely the same, the technology dependencies and kinds of dependencies will shift. In most cases, the enterprise IT experience of virtualization will be a helpful guide. However, some CSPs will want to ensure telecom industry levels of availability, reliability, and scalability of processes and practices. As network virtualization moves from labs to deployments, IDC believes that a mix of IT and network expertise is essential to success in planning, procurement, acceptance, deployment, integration, and ongoing operations phases. To drive business success, the virtualized infrastructure must build upon telecom industry principles of scale and resiliency alongside IT industry principles of speed and agility. Legacy CSP Practices and Network Equipment Prevent CSPs from Competing for Customers CSPs with legacy infrastructures and processes have been limited from competing at Internet speed because legacy systems can take months or weeks to provision or modify. The virtualization innovations of network functions virtualization (NFV) are showing that components can be provisioned or modified in minutes. This exponential increase in efficiency has the potential to accelerate the speed of competition beyond the capabilities of CSPs. CSP Pressures from Over the Top Emphasize Benefits of Infrastructure For businesses and private individuals, there are a wide variety of services to share experiences by speaking, texting, or visual connections. For some users, the choices are about the modes of communication: interactive real time or responsive (on-demand or passive). Many users can also choose which services to use for the communication: cellular voice telephone services, through a device using a hosted service, or peer-to-peer services. IDC 1735

2 The pressure is on CSPs to be the first choice for users and to deliver the services profitably. Successful services require both a high level of positive customer experiences and business agility in time to market. Network Integrity and Reach Remain Essential As CSPs work to compete in the global technology markets, delivering on decades of experience and integrity remains a hallmark of network-based providers globally. Infrastructures with a pervasive approach to secure, scalable, and reliable systems are essential. The infrastructure creates the possibility to offer outstanding, differentiated customer experiences. As users continually embrace new applications and content feeds, the continuity of the infrastructure experience is an important foundation for success. Even though the virtualization of network infrastructure domains and segments offers critical potential for business agility, the reality of application cycle times as short as a few days or weeks remains a real dynamic that infrastructure must support through APIs, integration, and interoperability, whether with third parties, internally, or transparently. Innovation Enabled by Software The enablers of innovation are people who use the increasingly accessible software tools being delivered by innovative cloud, big data, and social business vendors. Legacy hardware-based network gear might not be able to support added functionality until a new device is ordered, shipped, and installed at the customer site. Today, a growing number of network elements can get significant new functionality through a software license key. Operationalizing the software feature sets requires processes and practices that make use of the innovations. Today, many CSP infrastructures feature islands of innovation, as shown in Figure 1. F i g u r e 1 CSP Infrastructure Virtualization Today Mobile core network Datacenters Transport SDN Islands of virtualization Source: IDC, IDC

3 Software-Rich Evolution Driving the CSP infrastructure toward a software-rich set of network elements will take time and careful planning. As Figure 2 shows, CSP infrastructure is on a journey to a more open environment. The separate areas of innovation in software-rich infrastructure network and datacenters need to come together. More importantly, the operations of the infrastructure must come together. IDC sees emerging commonalities in the management of IT datacenter infrastructures and the network infrastructures. Emerging disruptive approaches to operational systems draw heavily on the IT industry, open source, and Web-scale datacenter experiences while continuing to value the telecom industry experiences of scale and reliability. For CSPs, the ability to choose wisely from options with IT depth and telecom industry depth is important. F i g u r e 2 CSP Infrastructure Virtualization Outlook Network Datacenters Cloud Isolated Source: IDC, 2014 Unified Integrated Outlook Hybrid environments are a real consideration through 2020 and beyond. Some network elements will be proprietary platforms, and some will be commercial server-based software platforms. In the evolution of CSP infrastructures toward virtualized infrastructures, creating the processes and platforms for software-rich management and orchestration is essential. In summary, the control of the CSP infrastructure is shifting from the software capabilities of network infrastructure to the business capabilities enabled by the software-rich infrastructure. This opens up the requirement to view benefits in business terms and to examine the people and processes dimensions from the earliest stages of infrastructure evolution discussions. Software-Rich Benefits The speed of innovation is enabled by the software-rich products that are being shipped and those coming to market in 2015 and beyond. As software-defined infrastructure products emerge, more accessible software tools are making infrastructure innovations possible all along the supply chain and in the hands of consumers. Taking ownership of innovation with the ability to execute at the speed of today's business professionals is a hallmark of the software-rich infrastructures emerging in the telecom industry IDC 3

4 Challenges and Opportunities What's Needed to Succeed? Virtualization (open) versus previous (closed) network infrastructure. Virtualization and other software are abstractions of the existing infrastructure. Virtualization is already a reality for today's CSPs. Both in the products being deployed and in the services being sold to enterprise customers, the advances in computing continue to focus on the abstraction of essential functions. Legacy network systems were closed systems sold by single suppliers, usually with highly proprietary internal engineering and interworking. Separation of functions is ripe with the potential for phantom problems and finger-pointing. Business capabilities drive successful architectural shift to network virtualization. To achieve dynamic and agile service capabilities requires organizational resiliency in both technical and business operations. Putting in place the right systems of responsibility, ownership, and accountability is part of the essential framework for a successful shift to a virtualized infrastructure. Transformation of staff, culture, and processes will take time. The journey to network virtualization will take time. As a start, new knowledge bases of virtualized infrastructure and software-rich infrastructures will need to be acquired by CSP leaders and working teams. Expanding the daily working experience to leverage IT innovations more clearly will also require leadership and examples. Considering Dimension Data and Juniper Networks Together, Dimension Data and Juniper Networks offer a combination of IT, network, and telecom industry expertise. The technology focus of Juniper Networks on innovation in programmable and automated networks fits with software-defined infrastructure concepts. The business outcomes focus of Dimension Data across the entire IT life cycle aligns with the scope of the network evolution that is under way. The Juniper Networks vision for networking rests on a deep appreciation for software capabilities in networking infrastructure. Juniper's solution for network virtualization is a multilayer approach based on Juniper's understanding of both network dimensioning and network technologies. Achieving high levels of performance with networking infrastructure depends on the multilayer approach along with a clear approach to centralized and distributed functions. Industry collaboration on standards is a cornerstone of the Juniper approach to virtualization to support and sustain interoperability and leveragability of the resulting infrastructure and operations. The Juniper vision for software-defined networks (SDNs) and virtualization extracts services from the infrastructure and enables implementers, in this case Dimension Data, to develop the appropriate and necessary combinations of services and services resources using service chaining and performing any hardware optimization that could be required. Working with large, complex global organizations has enabled Dimension Data to develop expertise in business process and transformational projects, which is a key success factor for virtualization projects. Through the customer knowledge base and their organizational structures most, if not all, CSPs and global organizations have entrenched approaches to business rules and infrastructure that will be impacted by virtualization. Dimension Data's expertise in automating and integrating complex customer infrastructures provides a foundation for the fundamental reworking and rebuilding of services that network virtualization can suggest. As CSPs turn to external teams as a means of accelerating change and enabling the learning journey of in-house staff, Dimension Data's full set of technology solutions and services can help network virtualization become the engine of a significant, lasting transformation of CSP infrastructure and operations into a more competitive and profitable business platform. The large global footprint of Dimension Data combined with the Juniper Networks portfolio of assets suggests a capability to team IDC

5 that is as broad as some CSP visions for software-defined infrastructure. Executing on the vision of software-defined networks will require deep, long-term expertise in a mix of telecom and IT principles and practices. Conclusion Customer requirements and market realities are pushing CSP technology teams to leverage IT technologies more rapidly and more broadly than ever before. CSPs should consider taking steps to embrace IT and to work with IT domain experts. The promise of network virtualization clearly suggests important technology moves that CSPs can make. As the technologies come to market, the larger and more significant challenge for CSPs is to prioritize business goals. As IDC's 3rd Platform research shows, the need to bring in technology to serve business requirements is a hallmark of today's industry transition. CSPs need to tackle network infrastructure efficiencies as an important way to drive business outcomes. Taking steps to reduce problems to a manageable scale will be the challenge for the coming years. However, a variety of vendors are working to achieve this goal. A B O U T T H I S P U B L I C A T I ON This publication was produced by IDC Custom Solutions. The opinion, analysis, and research results presented herein are drawn from more detailed research and analysis independently conducted and published by IDC, unless specific vendor sponsorship is noted. IDC Custom Solutions makes IDC content available in a wide range of formats for distribution by various companies. A license to distribute IDC content does not imply endorsement of or opinion about the licensee. C O P Y R I G H T A N D R E S T R I C T I O N S Any IDC information or reference to IDC that is to be used in advertising, press releases, or promotional materials requires prior written approval from IDC. For permission requests, contact the IDC Custom Solutions information line at or Translation and/or localization of this document require an additional license from IDC. For more information on IDC, visit For more information on IDC Custom Solutions, visit Global Headquarters: 5 Speen Street Framingham, MA USA P F IDC 5

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