A network is virtualised when all physical components can be managed and controlled by its data-driven representation and abstraction. Virtualisation technology supports modern business models that increase the volumes of data traffic.
The exponential growth in data strains networks, datacentres, and other computing assets. The rate of data consumption has made network virtualisation essential. It will soon be unacceptable to offer quality of service (QoS) via policy management with limited or no view of that QoS.
Data volume increases have not been matched by revenue growth for network operators, and unless networks are managed effectively, further growth will be impeded.
Virtualisation has been hyped by some as a passing phase. This disruptive technology, however, may enable services providers to meet ever-increasing data consumption demands.
Unlike many other new technologies, though, network virtualisation has benefits beyond cost reduction.
Virtualisation offers an opportunity to derive more value from network assets. It offers them the chance to transform their networks, ensuring every part of the network is working as efficiently as possible and delivering at full capacity.
Capacity planning and orchestration are central to the success of virtualisation. Network operators also need relevant real-time insight into capacity and self-optimising capabilities to ensure service delivery is as effective as it can be.
Current and future demands on network resources, efficiency and service levels can benefit from the automated deployment and redeployment of the network assets and functionality.
The most established standardised network virtualisation architectures are software-defined networks (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV). Developed independently of one another by academics and services providers respectively, these are an opportunity to merge IT with telecommunications.
IT and telecommunications capacity planning have been traditionally separate and siloed, with their own processes and methodologies. But NFV and SDN allow the consolidation of IT and telecommunications capacity management functions, giving true end-to-end visibility of the networking and IT real estate.
This is essential if capacity is to meet macro and service-level demands from the customer business.
Jay Perrett is chief technology officer at Aria Networks
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