Combining Cloud, NFV, and SDN to create agile new services

This is a guest post by Paulo Campoli, CTO of Cisco’s EMEAR Service Provider Segment, who will be presenting at the OnFuture EMEA 2014 Brainstorm in London, June 11-12.

The industry is going through a huge business transformation. Enterprises want to focus their resources and investments on their core business rather than investing in non-core IT operations.

They are looking at consuming network and IT services from the cloud, rather than investing in in-house operations. Consumers are raising their expectations, demanding to have a consistent application experience on any device at any place and at any time. And consumers expect the same experience at work, which drives overall consumerization of IT.

The market opportunity is huge and can be described as the ‘Internet of Everything’, as people, machines, and processes are communicating with each other at an exponentially increasing scale. This creates new opportunities for everyone.

As part of this, Service Providers can apply innovative technologies, like SDN, NFV and orchestration platforms, in their networks to overcome the current rigidity and complexity of today’s network infrastructure and operations. This opens new business opportunities.

Disaster Recovery as a Service is one example of a new enterprise cloud services opportunity. The opportunity is to provide a high-availability cloud service that can be launched quickly while minimizing the operational cost.

This service also provides a much higher level of automation than traditional networks would allow, as these services need to execute network configurations for hundred of customers within minutes. Manual processes cannot scale up fast enough to make this new business profitable. Provisioning a new customer must be accelerated from typically 4 weeks down to 1 week. Automation of network connections and Cloud IaaS allow the operator to reserve network resources and connections with guaranteed service levels agreements, enabling a pay-as-you-use business offer to enterprises. The service has become popular with enterprise customers that need high availability and are attracted to the economics of dynamically adjusting storage, compute, and networking resources as business requirements change, paying only for what they need.

Location Based Analytics is another opportunity that is enabled by new programmatic interfaces that enable interactions between applications and the network. Shopping malls, hotels, and airports benefit from the efficiencies of leveraging small cells and WiFi networks for advanced interactive communications with their customers.

At airports, passengers benefit from WiFi networks and analytics which shorten the time they spend waiting in lines, and therefore gives them more time to enjoy airport facilities. RFID tracking helps ensure better use of airport assets, such as cleaning equipment, wheelchairs, and vehicles for assisting passengers with reduced mobility. By optimizing the supply chain, ‘Asset Tracking’ is expected to help speed up airplane turnaround times, another key ingredient of the customer experience. Increased visibility of assets will also save money by eliminating unnecessary orders for equipment that has been misplaced.

At shopping malls customer experience is shaped by intensifying expectations and new demands. Beyond retail, restaurant, and entertainment destinations, consumers now expect multi-channel experiences that fuse brick-and-mortar shopping with digital services, allowing consumers to buy however and whenever they want.

After developing platforms to merge existing Telco applications with over the top applications, Cisco sees the need to drive the innovation and agility further into the network, as new technologies such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) that allow programmability, automation and simplification of datacenter and networking platforms become ready for prime time.

Paolo Campoli (CTO of the SP Segment for Cisco EMEAR) will present at the OnFuture EMEA 2014 Brainstorm in London on June 11th , showing new tools that propel service providers in this business transformation, and how enterprises will benefit from these new network services.

Cisco believes that enabling fast mobile service creation and innovation combined with the capabilities to quickly deploy and test them in production networks is the way to develop applications and solutions rapidly – at ‘web speed’. We believe that applications that interwork with the network will perform better than those applications that run over the top and have to reverse engineer the underlying network behaviour.

For Service Providers, we see it as key to overcome network rigidity and complexity by leveraging new tools and technologies that make network service creation and deployment easy and fast. In addition it is imperative to leverage service portals like e-stores for Enterprise to easily understand, order and consume these new services in self service fashion. Our ideal is for networks to get the business flexibility and agility to present and adapt to new consumption models, new models like “pay as you go” based on actual consumption or providing hosted network services like security or web servers out of the cloud.

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