Choice reduces risk

Prayson Pate
Man pressing virtual icons

The current spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus has caused major disruption to supply chains. Manufacturers are shifting production from China to other countries. The situation highlights the risks of a single-source strategy. One bit of good news is that truly open network functions virtualization (NFV) provides a path to reducing risk through the power of choice.

Choice enables using the right hardware

And “the right hardware” might depend on cost, CPU cores, interfaces, power, LTE options – or in this case, availability. Taking an open approach to NFV means that you have options for mitigating disruptions. Your selected server might not be available because of disruptions due to weather, earthquakes, volcanoes, quicksand, political unrest, or disease. (Note: These risks apply to more than supply chains. Our company’s Asia-Pacific sales kickoff was relocated due to the Manila volcano, then canceled due to Covid-19. As for quicksand, you have to be of a certain age to appreciate that.)

If your server choice is disrupted, you can select a similar replacement – without changing your selected software partners or your operational procedures. It may not be an overnight change, but it is much easier than replacing one closed appliance with another.

Likewise, pursuing an open approach simplifies addressing new applications. A new service might need more CPU cores, special interfaces, environmental hardening, or other changes. If so, it’s straightforward to look at the server market to find and secure a new hosting option – with no changes to your selected software partners, your operational procedures, or anything else.

Choice protects you on the software side also

The software side is less susceptible to the physical disruptions described above. But it can be disrupted by lack of support, excessive bugs, increases in licensing costs or unwillingness to cooperate in a multi-vendor environment. For example, we had a discussion with an enterprise that was happy with their SD-WAN supplier. But the supplier was acquired, negatively affecting price and availability. The enterprise decided to pursue a virtualized approach going forward. That way, they could change SD-WAN suppliers with no impact on the hosting hardware. This is not a path they would pursue lightly, but at least they will have the option.

The power of choice also protects service providers. Some of their enterprise customers have definite preferences for SD-WAN and firewall suppliers. A service provider might decide to roll out a solution based only on firewall supplier Alpha. They will get no business from the enterprises who have approved and deployed firewall supplier Beta. With an open and virtualized solution, a service provider can have a standard deployment and operational model. AND they can give each customer the brands they prefer. They can also offer generic functions at a lower cost, broadening their addressable market.

Choose an open approach and reap the benefits

At ADVA, we believe that openness and choice are essential to success with NFV. We have embraced a multi-vendor approach from the very beginning. And it’s helping our customers succeed with a broad array of hardware and software suppliers, as shown below.

NFV company table

Don’t fall into the trap of fake NFV – closed and single vendor. Take an open approach and enjoy the benefits – including the power of choice to reduce risk.

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