With use of network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN), service providers have the unique opportunity to create more adaptable networks. In doing this, the networks can respond better to innovation and become more cost-efficient.
In ConteXtream’s latest white paper, it’s argued that in order to enjoy the full range of advantages when adopting SDN and NFV, operators must move past just replacing hardware devices with virtualized network functions (VNFs), and take it a step further by putting a “cloud-native” approach into action. The “Fit VNF” model is the suggested method, along with a scalable SDN fabric to connect VNFs over distributed infrastructure.
In some circles, NFV and VNF are used interchangeably. However, in an NFV environment, a VNF handles specific network functions that run on one or more virtual machines (VMs) on top of the hardware networking infrastructure. Individual VNFs can be connected or combined as building blocks to provide a full-scale networking communication service. Fit VNFs are no different – they can be dedicated to a single function, and then strung together with chaining to create services.
What does change in ConteXtream’s method, is to scale back VNFs to an essential function, eliminating extra duties unnecessary to the cloud. In essence, this method trims the fat, hence the name Fit VNF. As the white paper suggests, Fit VNFs can be created several ways, ranging from removing redundant software modules to deconstructing multi-function nodes.
But, by limiting the capabilities of a VNF, those responsibilities must be picked up elsewhere. For ConteXtream, that means these become duties of the NFV cloud networking platform. In doing this, Fit VNFs and the platform agnostic to them are able to introduce new services faster with less risk. Paired with an intelligent NFV infrastructure, VNFs can exhibit dynamic connectivity. With scalability and dynamism comes better service agility, allowing operators to more simply introduce new VNFs into their networks.
When designing and optimizing products VNF software vendors must know what platform to address. Because there aren’t industry-standard implementations yet for NFV, those in the industry responded with the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV). Announced by the Linux Foundation in September 2014, OPNFV’s goal is to be a carrier-grade, integrated platform that introduces products and services to the industry faster. Working closely with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI NFV), OPNFV presses for consistent implementation of open standards. OPNFV is already working on certification programs for VNF interoperability, making it an important piece of the intelligent NFV infrastructure.
To learn more about how a smart NFVI and simpler VNFs can create better service agility, download your free copy of ConteXtream’s “The ‘Fit VNF’ and Intelligent NFV Infrastructure: Designing for Service Agility.”