As it stands at the moment, the value of network funcitons virtualization (NFV) lies in its speed and agility. Service providers are able to deliver new services to market faster than ever before and differentiate themselves from the competition in the process.

However, we have already been made aware that the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is currently working on a number of industry standards in relation to NFV. These standards will largely focus on the language surrounding NFV services in order to commoditise specific service offerings.

A standards-based approach

At the moment, each service provider’s APIs and languages are unique and their chosen orchestration system will provision services based on this language. In the next three years or so, we could be seeing a new standards-based approach which offers greater flexibility to the customer, enabling them to take their service requests to any provider and ask them to provision it with full interoperability.

Service providers will also see a reduction in development overheads as they will no longer need to spend time developing the services themselves. The challenge will lie in finding new ways to innovate and differentiate themselves from their competition.

The implication for service providers

The focus will need to shift to the customer experience. How can services be made bigger and better? How can they be bundled to deliver maximum value? On what platform will the services be presented to maximise ease of transaction?

We already see examples of this across other regulated service industries such as insurance providers and banking. The actual services offered are based on a common standard but the providers are able to differentiate in their delivery of these services.

The key to success

This level of commoditization is likely still a few years away, but service providers would do well to ensure they are ready to embrace it when it comes. The first step is ensuring they have all the systems in place ready to deliver NFV and, as previously mentioned, doing that now brings a host of business benefits of its own.

The key to success will be in finding a solution that delivers benefits in the short term, while also supporting next-generation technologies. Service providers looking to take the next step towards NFV should look to a technical solutions provider to ensure they have the correct systems in place across the physical and virtual layer to deliver the capabilities they need now and in the future.

Jake Greenland is group head of systems architecture at HardwareSolutions