The software defined network will drive enterprise innovation

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The adoption of advanced technologies such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) firmly puts customers in the driver’s seat. Not only do these technologies allow customers to have complete control over their technology assets, but they also allow for simple and fast innovation, which in the landscape of digital transformation is critical. Customers are now able to reap the benefits of SDN and NFV. Further, telcos can also gain a more in-depth understanding about the individual requirements of those customers than was previously possible.

However, telcos will need to adopt better tools to capture these insights in order to act on them and this is where new advances taking place in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) space will come into play. This was the key insight shared by Mirko Voltolini, Colt’s Head of Network On Demand, while discussing what the main drivers and hurdles to NFV adoption are with TelecomTV at their Great Telco Debate in London.

Speaking to a question regarding how SDN and NFV are going to help telcos gain the best possible insights into the needs of customers, Voltolini said: “SDN and NFV are enabler technologies that allow us to put customers in control. NFV also allows telcos to expose their services to customers in a different way than we have been doing in the past through digital platforms. As a result, we will gain a much better insight into customer requirements.”

Mirko recently authored a blog post that looked at the shift towards a software-based, cloud-centric network. He outlined that the essence of SDN and NFV involves: Redesigning existing closed network elements into software functions running on commodity cloud computing server infrastructure (NFV), separating and centralising the network control software from the network traffic forwarding function (SDN), and enabling real-time service provisioning and network optimisation through software programmability – orchestration.

However, Mirko acknowledged that the sector needs better platforms to improve the capture of the insights being created by NFV. This is where the capabilities of AI will be invaluable.

“There are advances happening in the Artificial Intelligence space that will allow us to process large amounts of data in order to generate better customer insights,” Mirko noted.

When it comes to what’s planned for 2018, Mirko said that AI, as well as virtualisation and ‘softwarisation’ are big themes for the year ahead.

“Definitely we will see virtualisation and softwarisation of the telco becoming mainstream. There’s a significant buzz in the industry around adopting machine learning technologies to process large amounts of data and that will also become a key focus for 2018. These new technologies will also allow us to start to automating the service experience side from an assurance point of view,” he concluded.

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