The International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that the market for new network technologies like SDN (software defined networking) and NFV (network functions virtualisation) will grow to $12.5 billion by 2020. Not only will these advanced telecoms technologies boost innovation and allow businesses to be more agile and efficient, they will also allow businesses to expand their options when it comes to things like networking and security.
In line with this, the IDC also predicts that the SD-WAN (software defined networking in a wide area network) industry, which was worth a humble $225 million in 2015, will develop into a $6 billion industry come 2020.
So we know that the market appetite for these innovations is only set to expand, and become more and more profitable. But that doesn’t mean everyone understands all the latest telecoms terms. What are the ins and outs of these modern telecoms service technologies, anyway?
Here are the basics.
- What is SDN? Basically, by embracing networks that are “software-defined”, organisations are automating and simplifying the configuration of their networks because they are able to perform these actions using software applications. This makes networks more agile, efficient and secure. The aim is to enable network engineers and administrators to change things up as soon as business requirements change. It can be seen as a series of network objects, such as switches, firewalls and routers deployed in an automated manner. Essentially, SDN allows businesses to enjoy the full possibility of Cloud by giving them the ability to move as quickly as their ideas.
- What is SD-WAN? A specific software application of SDN, SD-WAN is used to configure and connect enterprise networks in different locations. Think different offices of the same company or data centres in different locations. One Gartner analyst explained the difference between the two as: SD-WAN being the technology you can buy, while SDN is an architecture. The beauty of SD-WAN is that businesses can create higher-performance WANs using lower-cost Internet connectivity, meaning that they can wholly or partially replace more expensive WAN technologies.
- What is NFV? Quite similar to SDN, NFV sees core network functions, which were once run off specialised hardware, being redesigned to run in a virtualised environment using off-the-shelf hardware. NFV is actually a complementary technology to SDN, which takes the functions that require vendor-specific hardware – things like firewalls and routers – and makes them available through network software. Eliminating hardware means lower costs and virtualising network functions makes it easier for businesses to scale up and down with fluctuations in demand.
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