Appledore Research Group is just back from an excellent week at SDN NFV World Congress in The Hague (my first since the early years of this event in Bad Homburg). Whilst I have been away the conversation has changed. Gone is the early stage optimism of NFV/SDN changing everything and in its place there is a much more sober focus on key NFV use cases and the challenges of operationalising the technology.

These challenges were well described, in the session I chaired, by Alexey Gumirov of Detecon. Alexey nicely summed up the two key operational challenges to NFV/SDN in CSPs: culture and trust.

“Don’t care culture breaks everything”

Existing cultures in CSPs are siloed and create responsibility avoidance. If we don’t change the culture and the silos we are destined to replicate our existing physical network ways of working in the new systems (Conway’s Law)

“When I use AWS I trust it”

Many of the challenges in software become easier when we trust and work with our suppliers. Alexey noted we seem to implicitly trust our relation with AWS or with Kubernetes and by working with them the capability improves and is easy to consume. Yet the majority of existing CSP interactions with suppliers remains about shifting the responsibility to the vendor and creating the exact reverse of this.

Appledore will be looking at the opportunities and challenges of operationalising NFV/SDN in upcoming research.

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