NFV is a much-discussed topic, but what does it really mean for service providers in terms of business benefits and operations?
Delivering speed, agility and scalability, NFV helps service providers deliver new customisable services to market, fast. Automation speeds up previously manual and time consuming processes. It Simplifies maintenance, improves accuracy and speeds up delivery through every step of the services lifecycle. By lowering the cost of service provisioning, service providers have more flexibility to provide add-on service options and value bundles to their customers. Without incurring detrimental costs. Furthermore, the move from capex investment to a revenue-based licensing fee means costs can be directly offset against the customer’s annual, monthly, or even weekly billing schedule. Projects can also be scaled up and down with ease. Risk is reduced and service providers enabled to continuously innovate, meet customer demands and thereby boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty.
For some service providers, providing a useful application, such as a self-service store front or comparison tool, may be just as valuable in terms of competitive advantage as the services themselves. In this scenario it is the presentation and customisation of services that improves the customer experience. But the emphasis is still on speed of delivery to market and achieving these capabilities before the competition. Provisioning such an application still relies on the ability to deliver the infrastructure required to support it. Servers, routers and firewalls must all be in place and deliver the performance to support a growing volume of users. Through the use of cloud, virtualisation and NFV, such infrastructures can be deployed quickly, speeding up the overall delivery time to market.
For service providers who invest a lot in CPE hardware that is never recovered at the end of the service contract, NFV can provide further cost savings. Contrary to the implication, the concept referred to as vCPE, does not completely negate the need for on-premise equipment. However the equipment now required can be very basic and therefore very cheap. Due to its simplicity, the equipment itself can’t deliver any intelligence or offer any enhanced services. However, services such as firewalls, email scanning, web filtering etc can now be deployed inside the service provider’s own network using NFV and the customer’s connection can simply be rerouted through the new function. Revenue-generating services are delivered with speed and ease while cost to the service provider remains minimal. The advantages are clear. But service providers need to weigh up all cost and performance implications alongside these advantages before any decisions are made.
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