Informa Telecoms & Media has published the findings of a global industry survey in a white paper, Mobile SDN – the Future is Virtual, sponsored by Juniper Networks, which finds that momentum is building rapidly for mobile software-defined-network (SDN) technology among operators worldwide. The survey highlights that SDN is likely to be deployed initially to make networks more scalable and flexible, in line with sustained demand for data-intensive applications such as mobile video. It suggests that in the longer term, however, the emerging technology can enable new revenue and business-model opportunities among mobile operators, such as the ability to bring lucrative new mobile applications and services to market in a fraction of the time and at lower costs.
Informa’s white paper identifies three distinct areas in mobile operators’ architecture where mobile SDN is materializing: separation of the control and data planes; virtualization of network components; and service exposure via APIs. These three areas address challenges and pain points faced by operators in both developing and developed markets.
Mobile SDN can help operators develop agile, programmable networks that operate dynamically, as opposed to legacy networks, which are inherently static and complicated to provision and manage. This means faster time-to-revenue and an infrastructure that is simpler to operate.
The survey – which had nearly equal representation from senior technical and business leaders – found that operators consider mobile SDN to be a critical technology for the future of networks: Ninety-three percent of operator respondents expect SDN to be implemented in mobile within five years, and half expect it to be implemented in the next one to two years.
The survey also found that LTE and LTE-Advanced deployments are expected to be the biggest drivers of mobile SDN adoption, and adoption is expected to be led by developed markets in North America (primarily the US) and Asia Pacific (South Korea and Japan). Sixty-five percent of the mobile operator respondents expect infrastructure vendors to have the greatest ability to influence take-up of mobile SDN.
“Mobile SDN is set to be one of the most transformative technologies implemented in the next few years,” said the white paper’s author, Dimitris Mavrakis, a principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media. “Cost savings and network flexibility are arguably the first benefits to be considered, but providing a platform for new service-revenue opportunities and network exposure can help operators combat competition both within and outside the mobile value chain. Our survey findings suggest that all eyes are on the first deployments of SDN in the mobile network, which are expected during 2013 and 2014, which will provide valuable early lessons and experiences for the whole market.”
“The mobile network has become the mobile Internet and an integral part of our daily lives, SDN is a major shift in the networking industry that can remove the challenges of scalability and agility and provide mobile operators an opportunity to deliver anytime-anywhere data services to customers. The emergence of SDN provides a tangible solution to practically and cost-effectively enable innovative new business models that deliver the mobile services users want and need.” said Brad Brooks, vice president of business strategy and marketing, Software Solutions Division, Juniper Networks.
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