What are NFV and SDN, and why should I care?

By Stuart Benington

Network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) have emerged into the spotlight for telecom operators and other service providers as they make their transition to a cloud-based world. What are they and why are they important?

It’s important to understand that NFV and SDN are highly complementary but they perform distinct functions for operators’ infrastructure. To appreciate their value we first must look at the problem statements and opportunities that they target. Existing telecom infrastructure is optimized for reliability, long-lived applications, and fairly predictable traffic demand. To compete in the future, however, these networks need to evolve in a way that mirrors the newer market entrants – cloud hosting providers, over-the-top (OTT) players, and non-traditional players like capacity wholesalers and internet exchanges.

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