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IHS Markit: 75 per cent of carriers will deploy SDN in 2016

In a recent survey of carriers, three-quarters of respondents say they have already deployed or will deploy software-defined networking (SDN) in 2016, according to a research note from Michael Howard, senior research director carrier networks, IHS Markit.

Survey respondents say the top drivers for service provider SDN investments and deployments are simplification and automation of network and service provisioning, as well as service automation

‘In our fourth annual survey of carrier SDN strategies, it’s clear that service providers around the globe are investing in SDN as part of a larger move to automate their networks and transform not only their networks, but also internal processes, operations and service offerings,’ said Howard. ‘Service providers believe that SDN will fundamentally change telecom network architecture and deliver benefits in service agility, time to revenue, operational efficiency and capex savings.’

These operators want to deploy SDN in most parts of their networks, IHS Markit found. Survey respondents’ top three SDN-targeted network domains for deployment by the end of 2017 are within data centres, between data centres and access for businesses.

Still, carriers are proceeding with caution, biting off small chunks of their networks called “contained domains” in which they will explore, trial, test and make initial deployments. Momentum is strong, but it will be many years before bigger parts of networks or entire networks are controlled by SDN – although a few operators are leading the way including AT&T, Level 3, Colt, Orange Business Systems, SK Telecom and Telefónica, among others.

The industry is still in the early stages of a long-term transition to SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV) architected networks, the research firm says. Much continues to be learned as each year passes. In this year’s survey, for example, respondent operators indicated that their main barriers to deployment are the lack of carrier-grade products and integration of virtual networking into their existing physical networks.

Nonetheless, they rated virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE) managed services as the top SDN/NFV application for producing new sources of revenue.

The 22-page IHS Markit SDN strategies survey is based on interviews with purchase-decision makers at 28 service providers around the world that control 53 per cent of world’s telecom capex and are deploying or plan to deploy SDN in their networks in the future.

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