Do you want agility from SDN/NFV? There’s already a methodology for that
When commentators talk about SDN/NFV strategy and benefits it is often linked to service agility. But what is surprising to me is that nobody seems to make the link to the Agile Software Development model that is already widely adopted in the wider ICT industry.
In the past, software developers used to plan all the features for a major release and then do a project plan that said we can deliver it all 18-24 months from now. Many developers would then get to work, and often miss the deadline at the end.
To address many of these issues the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was published in 2001, which identified 12 principles
Customer satisfaction by early and continuous delivery of useful software
Welcome changing requirements, even late in development
Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months)
Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers
Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
Working software is the principal measure of progress
Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential
Regular adaptation to changing circumstance
In a previous role I was at a company which was implementing Agile using a methodology known as Scrum. In an organisation using Scrum you have a regular Sprint in which a small team will work collectively to develop a small set of features within two to four weeks. At the end of the Sprint all of the new features will be developed, tested and implemented in to the live code base. Once one Sprint is completed another one starts to develop the next set of prioritised software features (known as the backlog).
So how does all of this relate to SDN and NFV?
In the past there were many closed and proprietary systems. But SDN and NFV will move the network to be much more centred on software. It is this move to a software centric environment which will unlock agility benefits. But to do this working practices and cultures will need to change.
It’s clear that service providers have not been working to an Agile methodology in the past, but if they are to unlock the agility benefits of SDN and NFV they need to start learning from the wider ICT industry where Agile Software Development is common and well understood.
One part of this transformation is related to organisation, as outlined by Jack Barrett in his paper on the subject. In the data centre world we’ve seen a move to Dev Ops where the Development and Operations teams are merged to enable greater operation efficiency and feature velocity. This is often associated with tools such as Puppet and Chef. But Dev Ops in itself is not the full solution – service providers also need to look at how they plan and release features
If you want to use SDN/NFV to drive agility, I strongly suggest you learn more about the many formalised Agile Software Development methodologies that are used in the software industry.