Ask the Experts: SDN and NFV–So What?

Welcome to Ask the Experts, brought to you by In this video, Intelisys’ SVP Cloud Transformation Andrew Pryfogle breaks down the “so what” for customers when it comes to SDN and NFV with Masergy’s Vice President for Global Technology Ray Watson. Find out more about next generation networks from Ray and the Masergy team here:

Andrew: All right. Time again for another Ask the Experts session. When it comes to this stuff around SDN and NFV, and where the network is going, it’s always great to have Ray Watson in the studio. Ray is the Vice President of Global Technology for Masergy, one of our go to suppliers when it comes to next generation networks. Ray, welcome back man.
Ray: It’s good to be here.
Andrew: All right. I have one question for you. So what? Let me expand on it just a little bit. We always talk about that big question of so what, right? Because we talk about all this technology, and the bits and bytes of it, and so forth. But at the end of the day, none of it really matters unless we can explain to a customer why it’s important to them. How it can make them money, save them money, drive innovation. Talk to us about SDN and NFV. In your mind, what’s the big “so what” for so many of our customers?
Ray: Well sure, absolutely. So–and by the way, I’m a little bit opinionated about this, because the classic answer about SDN and NFV for most carriers out there is it’s absolutely about saving them money. That’s really what they’re kind of hoping to accomplish. I think that there will be some cost savings, so that maybe is part of the so what. But I think that the bigger so what is a couple things.
One is the rapid pace of change–both in the data center, and in the wide area network, and in mobility, and in bring your own device, and in advanced persistent threats and security. It’s accelerating so quickly that we need a platform, customers need a platform, that can innovate for the future, for things we haven’t even thought of yet.
For example: sometime in the frame-related MPLS era, we began to see the rise of WAN acceleration. And it took about seven to 10 years for that particular technology to mature, and be production ready, and be accepted. Right? In the NFV world, the next concept such as a WAN acceleration could be deployed, designed, tested, and built globally in a month. That’s the entire promise. And we know this because there’s a very clear paradigm for the rapid pace of change–and that is virtualization.
If you think about what happens in a data center–people can make three clicks with a mouse, spin up an Amazon Web Service virtual machine, and have it instantly. It no longer takes six weeks to build an exchange server and get it deployed.
That same rapid response to change, and for having flexibility to do things we haven’t even thought of yet–whether that’s block chain processing or point of sale processes. Certainly virtual session border controllers, which we already got deployed today. All of those types of things can reach the same economies of scale in the SDN and NFV worlds that we’ve seen with servers in the virtualized world. That’s the big so what.
Now, from a customer standpoint their so what could be very different than that. They may not see that far out. The folks in your partner community maybe talking to someone that really only has the benefit of seeing six inches in front of their face. For those folks, it may simply be about elimination of boxes. It may simply be about quicker provisioning. It may simply be about having the exact same experience on a T1 location as you have at a 10-gigabit location.
There’s a lot of different so whats, and you’ve kind of got me on a topic now that I can talk about all day. I see a lot of different ways you can approach that question.
Andrew: Got it. Well, it seems to me for the user customers at the core of all of this–achieving a network design that gives them the nimbleness that they didn’t have in previous networks, right?
Ray: For sure.
Andrew: To be able to adjust on the fly in minutes and days, rather than weeks and months. Is that a fair statement? Will you agree with that?
Ray: Absolutely. You absolutely nailed it.
Andrew: Yeah. Got to be able to do that in this rapidly changing economy we’re in. I mean, technology is an enabler for so many companies now, and if you don’t have a network to keep pace with it, you’re going to be in trouble. Yeah. Very cool.
Guys, that’s Ray Watson. Ray is the Vice President of Global Technology for Masergy, always one of the smartest guys we try to get in the studio to talk about the next generation of networks. Make sure you spend some time at the Masergy learning center. It’s got some great, great tools there: videos, white papers, sales tools that you can use to get smarter about how to sell this next generation of network for your big customers. Good selling.