If you attended Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, there is no doubt you realized that NFV has gone prime time. From what seemed to be a conceptually interesting idea a few years ago, NFV has now emerged as the hands-down blueprint for building next-generation, software-based communications networks.

Our reflections from engaging with operators globally is that the driver for NFV is not just the savings that Communications Service Providers (CSPs) experience from a capital perspective, but perhaps more importantly, it’s the increased business agility they gain from moving to a software-based architecture. Achieving this agility is an absolute requirement for CSPs in order to be able to compete with fast-moving and innovative web companies and over-the-top players.

While this enhanced agility is exciting from a revenue growth viewpoint, what has not changed is that CSPs still need to ensure that these services meet the expectations of an increasingly demanding consumer base. These demands have caused many in the industry to wonder if software-based networks should in fact be tested by software-based solutions.

From our perspective, the answer is a resounding “yes!”. The world is ready for software-driven orchestrated assurance solutions.

Don’t just take our word for it. If you look around, you will see that it is already happening – CSPs around the world are beginning to embrace software-defined solutions. Cisco, in a recent announcement with Telstra, revealed the operator’s intent to fully automate both provisioning and assurance of IP networks and services. This deployment is the first publicly announced implementation of a concept called Orchestrated Assurance, an ETSI NFV demonstration that was driven by Netrounds together with Cisco, Orange, Intel and Telco Systems.

We expect that Orchestrated Assurance will evolve Telstra’s existing processes and capabilities by providing an “always-on” software-based solution that replaces hardware-based equipment and manual field efforts with programmable “virtual test agents.” Orchestrated Assurance provides operators with the capability to deliver services faster and to ensure that services are delivered right the first time. In addition, this concept also provides enhanced testing functionality capable of immediately identifying network and service problems in real-time and resolving issues before the end-user notices.

The main drivers behind why CSPs are drawn to Orchestrated Assurance are the reduced test and deployment times, better service quality, and ultimately reduced customer churn. It also provides significant costs savings over traditional field-based testing equipment based on purpose-built hardware.

So, the software surge continues – networks defined by software and built by software must be tested by software as well. As we have seen from the “Land Down Under,” the world is indeed ready for this next wave of software utilization.

Mats Nordlund, Co-Founder and CEO, Netrounds