SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Tom Nolle
Tom Nolle is the president and founder of CIMI Corporation and the principal consultant/analyst. Tom started his career as a...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Tom Nolle | June 23, 2016 |

 
   

What a Virtual Network Looks Like: Planning

What a Virtual Network Looks Like: Planning Virtual networks make things easier for the user at the planning level... at least in theory.

Virtual networks make things easier for the user at the planning level... at least in theory.

Network services don't spring up unbidden from the earth but rather they're coerced out of infrastructure in response to business and consumer opportunities. Every operations and management paradigm ever proposed for networking includes an explicit planning dimension to get the service-to-infrastructure and service-to-user relationships right. On the surface, virtualization would seem to help planning by reducing inertia, but don't you then have to plan for virtualization? How the planning difficulties and improvements balance out has a lot to do with how rapidly we can expect virtualization to evolve.

What virtual networks do is disconnect "service" from "network" in at least some sense. They can do this by laying a new protocol layer on top of existing layers (the Nicira/VMware or software-defined WAN model), or by disconnecting traffic forwarding and network connectivity from legacy adaptive protocols (OpenFlow SDN and white-box switches). Thus released, virtual networks can evolve quickly to meet service needs even if infrastructure changes are slowed because operators need to write down their gear over a protracted period of time.

The general goal of virtual networks is to reduce network planning burdens on the buyer of network services. If provisioning a service or making a change takes four to six weeks, enterprises have to plan far ahead of their business needs. They also tend to try to fit their needs into long-term contracts, and some operators think this encourages them to skimp a bit. Operators obviously hope that by making services more extemporaneous, users would consume more of them.

About a third of enterprises I've talked with say their consumption of network services is at least partially constrained because they have to establish a steady-state service relationship that works for their traffic, whatever the periodic variations might be. They say, too, that they might well buy more service and spend more money if they could adapt more dynamically to their traffic needs. Another third says they could see themselves adding both capacity and service features on demand for specific peak applications. Nearly all say they'd love not to have to forecast needs through capacity planning as they do now. The biggest planning impact of virtual networking might thus be the fact that it reduces planning for buyers.

Arguably it does that by potentially increasing the planning burden on the service providers. Software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) both focus on service agility and self-service provisioning and customer care. These features would allow buyers to quickly try out service levels and change them, for the long term or even on demand, if they needed more or less capacity. Even service features for things like security could be added as needed. Agility alone makes infrastructure planning harder for the provider, and changes in technology and even the services themselves make it worse.

The planning challenges for operators divide into market targeting, service feature planning, and service requirements planning. Who do you sell your service to? Do you know where these prospects are and what to say to them? Do you even have any in your sales territory? What features would make your service attractive to users and profitable to you as the provider? How do those features get created with your virtual technology? If operators can't address these questions, then the idea of generating new revenue from virtual services has no credibility.

Most of the "service agility/new services/new revenue" proponents ignore the question of just who the prospects for all this new stuff might be and how those prospects would be convinced to buy. Today's business services are sold largely to connect static sites like branch offices, and so you have to convince buyers to start thinking of services in a new way in the virtual world. Until they do, you can't easily convert prospects to customers.

The feature planning issue is critically related to the market targeting because different market segments would value different features, and every feature has its own deployment and management requirements. These set the cost as much as customer perceptions of value set revenue. Operators have to plan to optimize the net profit per user and also the number of users that would be engaged.

The biggest challenge, perhaps, is how virtual networks, now romping wild and free over the marketplace, can harmonize with the long-lived infrastructure. Virtualization doesn't eliminate the challenge of "speed matching" the service and infrastructure worlds, it just pushes it into a virtualization layer.

Only high-margin services can afford the cost of explicit resource management, even today. With virtual-network services it is worse, because you have to constantly figure out on what real resources the virtual services depend. The general view among operators is that you have to plan your infrastructure based on your service goals (capacity planning) and then manage to insure that you're not selling more than for what you planned. As long as you're not, then if your infrastructure conforms to your capacity plan everything should be OK.

Virtual networks make things easier for the user at the planning level, by making it possible to change services on demand, but they don't eliminate budgeting and they demand more from network operators in capacity planning and service order admission control. We don't know, at this early stage, how the new balance of effort and risk will play in the markets, but we're certainly going to find out.

Read related posts:

Follow Tom Nolle on Google+!
Tom Nolle on Google+





COMMENTS




April 25, 2018

Yesterdays simple phone call to a contact center or business location is rapidly becoming todays interactive session, spanning multiple channels and devices. If you need to know how Omnichannel can

March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.