Last week in Denver, Carriers discussed their plans to migrate their networks to NFV and SDN, and what they’ve learned so far. Some themes were predictable. Carriers see agility and service innovation as the key drivers for their NFV/SDN deployments. This driver is fundamentally more important to them than cost reduction, though they are seeing reduced costs in deploying NFV over proprietary hardware. Accordingly, the new generation of Open Source Standards bodies (OPNFV, ONF, and ODL) is seen as more important than the traditional IETF and ETSI standards bodies since it’s through them that Carriers see the ability to compete with more agile open source deployments. However, the presiding theme throughout the conference was that Managed Security Services are clearly on Carriers’ minds as they make this transition.
Virtually all the North American Carriers have deployed security infrastructure to protect their networks as the frequency and sophistication of attacks has increased. However, more and more Carriers expressed interest in turning around those solutions, as they migrate them to NFV and SDN, to make them customer-facing and offer security services to their enterprise customers.
Particularly, we discussed the increased awareness in the mid market enterprise and even SMB who are waking up to the fact the Fortune 500 companies have already accepted. They must protect their businesses.
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I used the example of an auto dealership to demonstrate the value of SMB to hackers. A typical dealership is a $3-4M business with 30 or less employees. It’s a reputation-based business, where many dealerships are family-run and passed down from one generation to the next, so reputation of the family business is imperative. In addition, auto dealers maintain lots of personal data on their customers. SSN, address, phone, credit history, and bank account numbers are all collected by the dealer. In this environment, multiple studies show that dealers are falling prey to hackers because they are too small and unsophisticated to protect their dealerships themselves.
This is exactly the type of business that Carriers now want to bundle the connectivity service they already sell to the dealership with a managed security service to protect the reputation and sensitive information of the dealership. Having a Carrier manage this service for the dealer is very valuable since the average dealer has a single person IT group. As one local dealer I spoke to on this said, he cares about three things: selling cars, making money, and selling cars. Here’s a great example of the type of business who needs managed security so it can go back to doing what it does best, and Carriers are now recognizing the opportunity.