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NFV Executive Insights: From the network to the decision fabric

Author: Prodip Sen CTO, HP Network Functions Virtualization Business Unit


[I have resisted blogging until this point, much to the chagrin of my marketing colleagues. So here is a surprise gift to my colleagues - my first blog!]


Many of us in the networking industry have been hearing this buzz for some time now:


“Nothing as exciting has happened to the industry in many years...”


“We are at a turning point in the telecom industry...”


“We are at an inflection point...”


Those of us who are involved in developing and using solutions in the software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) space, know that this does not feel like a beautiful, abstract geometric inflection point. It feels more like a messy blob spread out in n dimensions.


The underlying technology—the compute, storage, networking, and orchestration environments—is evolving. SDN and NFV are maturing. Communications service providers (CSPs) are at different points in their adoption of SDN and NFV. Some have detailed roadmaps, while others are dipping their toes in the water or taking a wait-and-see approach. There are many different paths to traverse from the “old” network to the “new” -- all the way from simple interworking to a total transformation. So sometimes it may be hard to see the forest for the trees.


We are actually making tremendous progress on all fronts and are charting the course for the future. So to gain some perspective, let's take a couple of steps back and take stock of where we are.


The network cloud


Over the last decade the computing industry has been developing the infrastructure to move from a physical data center infrastructure to a virtualized one, and then onto a software-defined infrastructure and to a cloud-based infrastructure. And over the last few years, the telecom industry has begun to mirror this evolution, moving from a physical infrastructure to a software-defined infrastructure and to a virtualized one.


These two trends are now merging and we can talk about "cloudifying the network" to achieve what we can call the Network Cloud. This is more than simply adopting the data center based cloud, since we have to develop an infrastructure that deals with differentiated and geographically distributed pools of resources. Applications too have to be designed and written natively for a cloud architecture, relying on micro-services that can be consumed locally. This is when we start to gain the most significant benefits from the journey we are on. But more about all this another time.


The inflection point


As we look at all this from our bird’s eye vantage point, we can see that capitalizing on all the individual trends that have been evolving, and building this network cloud, we are creating a new pervasive infrastructure. This infrastructure will allow for the ubiquitous deployment of information gathering and processing points of presence. These points of presence will be instantiated and connected up in different ways dynamically, within the context of a user’s mobility. These capabilities, coupled with advances in big data, analytics and automation, opens the door to the creation of a powerful set of integrated decision-making tools that can be offered as services to help end-users on their journey through our information-rich and choice-rich world. The network, and all of its associated resources, are woven into an agile, service-and-subscriber-aware substrate.


This then is where we really are - we are changing our networks from merely creating connections to becoming a decision fabric. We are truly at the telecom industry’s next inflection point—we have started the journey to build this Decision Fabric.



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Fantastic, thanks for your insights Prodip. Do you see this decision fabric leading to autonomics within the next 5 years?






I see these are parallel activities - one using real-time information embedded in the network to create an efficient and agile infrastructure, the other using information to create  the decision fabric. Business priorities will decide whether one precedes the other, or whether they are truly implemented in parallel.


Thank you,


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