Service Providers have a unique set of challenges and opportunities in today’s digital economy. For years consumers have considered Service Providers as providers of connectivity only, and in some cases this remains true. However, increasingly service providers are providing both quality of experience for consumers in addition to a secure, cloud-orientated service catalogue for businesses.
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The demand from consumers is not just for raw bandwidth but for a quality of experience as they expect additional services, for example cloud based video. Alongside this, the huge growth of home IoT devices presents both more bandwidth requirements and a security problem for Service Providers. Recently we have seen attacks both targeting consumer equipment and generated by compromised equipment. As the variety and quantity of IoT devices grows, this is not a problem that can be ignored.
Similarly, mobile operators have to deliver increased bandwidth with the development of both 5G and the continued roll out of 4G. Compounding this, their networks also host IoT devices as many are powered by SIM cards.
As businesses now either transition their applications to the cloud, or start to consume applications that are based in the cloud, Service Providers have seen MPLS growth decline as traffic moves to the Internet rather than between customer locations. This trend will only continue as cloud adoption gathers pace, meaning that Service Providers must find new ways to bring value to customers who no longer see the need for MPLS services.
The rise of Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) has come to the fore as MPLS revenues decline. SD-WAN attempts to bring the benefits of the cloud to Service Provider services such as flexible subscriptions, quicker activation times and self-provisioning. When SD-WAN is deployed, businesses can segregate traffic based on the destination and ensure that business critical cloud applications have preferential treatment over other cloud services.
Service Providers have, for some time, been developing new standards to make the adoption of virtual services widespread. The aim here, primarily, is to reduce the costs involved in deploying a new service for customers while increasing both the portfolio of services and the flexibility with which customers can consume that service. Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) is still in its infancy but promises to revolutionise the way that Service Providers both consume technology from manufacturers and offer services to customers.
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