Analysts gawp at network function virtualization through rose-tinted specs

$4,500 report tells us its gonna be huge by, er, 2022. No, really

Professional prognosticator IDC has woken up to the network function virtualization (NFV) market and decided that service orchestration is the place to be.

Giants like AT&T and Verizon have long shown interest in virtualizing their infrastructure, but wider market activity has remained relatively sober with global sales worth a mere $564m in 2017, IDC said.

However, the abacus fondler has the market piling on bulk at a swift rate: IDC predicted a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 58 per cent between 2017 and 2022 to hit $5.6bn.

The analyst used the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) definitions to segment the NFV market: software-defined compute; networking; storage; management; and orchestration.

Of these, orchestration will ramp the fastest but you'll just have to take IDC's word for it – it hasn't put a figure on how big NFV orchestration is currently or applied growth percentages. For that you'll have to pay $4,500 for the full report.

IDC highlighted the difficulty of orchestrating network services across complex physical and virtual network functions and across multiple vertical domains which will give that segment its value.

The other hot properties in NFV, IDC ventured, will be software-defined networking (SDN), both in telco cloud data centres and between carrier clouds.

The forecast tags 5G and virtual routing rollouts as the domains behind its predicted NFV growth.

It'd be nice to cross-check IDC's number-crunching with its arch-rival, but Gartner's patented hype-cycle view of NFV was that it's sliding into the "trough of disillusionment".

Analysys Mason has an even more rosy view of the market's potential than IDC, and in March published a forecast that the market would hit a whopping $9bn by 2021.

That forecast, however, was methodologically different. Rather than the ETSI segmentation, Analysys Mason's prediction was for spend in the "vEPC, vIMS, and vCPE" markets (virtualized evolved packet core, virtualized IP media subsystem, and virtual customer premises equipment, respectively).

For those wanting to look at NFV with even rosier-tinted specs, Global Market Insights' July estimated that sales will be worth more than $70bn by 2024.

With such divergent forecasts (and methodologies), El Reg expects a certain amount of adjustment, when analysts get around to agreeing about what they're talking about measuring. ®

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