The upcoming ETSI NFV Workgroup session, in Okinawa (14th - 16th of May) has many of us excitedly packing as we anticipate the chance to come together as a community and review our progress over the last 90 days.
Personally for me, the last ninety days have been a blur. Tasked with the responsibility of developing and executing Procera's NFV strategy, the industry (myself included) have been running full steam ahead to ensure that the NFV wave does not grow and take off without us. I heard the metaphorical "gun go off" this past February, as I wearily boarded my plane at El Prat airport, coming home from this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. The NFV race had began, and 80,000 of my closest friends, colleagues and industry professionals were now jumping and vying for position to be the leader in the NFV space. This unofficial unveiling of NFV at MWC was important because for the first time, we were able to see the topic of NFV emerge from the darkness of obscurity to a top of mind conversation piece entering the discussions of every service provider. At the same time, it became quite evident that with all this excitement, a disconnect was happening between the vendor community and the service provider customers they hoped to serve.
Vendors were scrambling in this modern day "gold rush", to quickly form partnerships, start proof of concepts (POCs), and work the public relations machine to give themselves the upper hand (or at least the appearance of one) in this competitive landscape. At the same time the conversation on the service provider side was different. As the vendors were running fast and loose to make progress, the service providers were doing little more than a "toe dipping" exercise into NFV. The service providers were driven by a single question they were trying to answer in the flood of conflicting information around NFV, "Does this add value to our business?"
To them, NFV was not a science experiment, or a marketing initiative; it was a strategic business decision with ROI at its core.
Understanding this is a sobering reality that I feel needs to be front and center of all our minds when discussing NFV. For all the promises NFV offers in service innovation and lean infrastructure models, NFV is really being driven by our ability to prove its capabilities from a dollar and cents perspective. If we focus on pulling out and highlighting the bottom line business benefits NFV has to offer, its traction and growth will improve and align better with the customers we are trying to serve.
The future of NFV is bright, but without customers driving the technology it's nothing more than a pipe dream. I look forward to seeing everyone at the upcoming work group session and discussing how we can take NFV to the next level, not only in our products but in our customers'.