Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What is Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)

Network Operators’ networks are populated with a large and increasing variety of proprietary hardware appliances. To launch a new network service often requires yet another variety and finding the space and power to accommodate these boxes is becoming increasingly difficult; compounded by the increasing costs of energy, capital investment challenges and the rarity of skills necessary to design, integrate and operate increasingly complex hardware-based appliances. Moreover, hardware-based appliances rapidly reach end of life, requiring much of the procuredesign-integrate-deploy cycle to be repeated with little or no revenue benefit. Worse, hardware lifecycles are becoming shorter as technology and services innovation accelerates, inhibiting the roll out of new revenue earning network services and constraining innovation in an increasingly network-centric connected world.

Network Functions Visualization(NFV) aims to address these problems by leveraging standard IT virtualisation technology to consolidate many network equipment types onto industry standard high volume servers, switches and storage, which could be located in Datacentres, Network Nodes and in the end user premises. We believe Network Functions Virtualisation is applicable to any data plane packet processing and control plane function in fixed and mobile network infrastructures. NFV decouples the network functions, such as network address translation (NAT), firewalling, intrusion detection, domain name service (DNS), and caching, to name a few, from proprietary hardware appliances so they can run in software.

Virtualising Network Functions could potentially offer many benefits including, but not limited to:
1. Reduced equipment costs and reduced power consumption through consolidating equipment and exploiting the economies of scale of the IT industry.
2. Increased speed of Time to Market by minimising the typical network operator cycle of innovation.
3. Availability of network appliance multi-version and multi-tenancy, which allows use of a single platform for different applications, users and tenants. This allows network operators to share resources across services and across different customer bases.
4. Enables a wide variety of eco-systems and encourages openness.

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