November - 2015 - issue > CXO Insights

The Role of Software Systems in Managing Capacity in the Age of NFV and SDN

Swamy Vasudevan
CTO, Operations and Business Support Solutions-Ericsson North America
Friday, November 6, 2015
Swamy Vasudevan
Traditional capacity planning is mostly about investing. Systems are monitored and collected data is analyzed to identify the impact of trends. Particular attention is given to those situations expected to result in resource exhaustion. Necessary steps are taken to mitigate such conditions to keep service quality on track.

But the business is becoming more dynamic. Emerging services are allowing customers to request and remove features on-demand, some of which are provided over ecosystems involving third-party service providers.
Technology is responding to the situation. Network Function Virtualization (NFV) makes it easier to assign resources on-demand. More importantly, NFV also makes it easier, and faster, to release resources once they are not needed, thus making resources elastic.

NFV makes this possible by normalizing network functions into software so that they can share and maximize the utilization of common hardware. On the other hand, Software Defined Networking (SDN) provides an abstraction of transport facilities to make the network easier to reconfigure in realtime. As a result, SDN improves the programmability of the network to make it more responsive to changes and reconfiguration.

When combined, NFV and SDN are expected to enable unprecedented operational dynamicity, enabling the network to adapt to changing business conditions. This means more frequent and complex capacity planning of the underlying physical resources e.g., data centers, transport equipment and facilities, and logical connectivity.

To improve the profitability of new business models and service ecosystems, resource capacity needs to be handled in a more comprehensive, automated fashion. In this context, capacity planning becomes more than just a process for adding resources. It also needs to become adept at factoring in the release of resources in a timely manner. That brings capacity planning closer to the realm of service management.

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