Traditional VNFs are often provided as “a single box solution” where each instance serves a single function such as a router, firewall, or VPN for one user, says Gigaspaces CTO Nati Shalom. But VNFs are quickly moving to a cloud-native model where they’re driven by APIs, and they come with built-in automation for handling installation, configuration, healing, scaling, and upgrading for multiple users.
This move to cloud-native functions is happening at large enterprises and also within traditional service provider networks. “We strongly believe that at the end of the day, telco clouds are not significantly different than other clouds, and therefore the things that worked with other clouds should apply to telco clouds,” says Shalom.
VNF orchestration plays a key role in this transition. And Cloudify software — either the open source software or Gigaspaces’ own version — allows for automated provisioning, configuration, management, and orchestration.
But the transition to cloud-native is not just a technology shift, Shalom says. It also requires a shift in the business model from a high-cost investment to a low cost, high-volume model. Currently, VNF developers incur substantial financial risk while they take on the fixed costs of re-architecting their VNFs for cloud-native deployments.
Gigaspaces has created a new pricing model so VNF vendors can tie the expense of this transition to the scaling of their products. Under its Cloudify Cloud-Native VNF Program, Gigaspaces created a three-tiered pricing model for vendors:
- The Design Phase is a low-cost, flat-rate tier that allows developers to quickly assess how their VNF can be redesigned for a cloud-native environment.
- During the Development Phase, vendors can use the free, open-source edition of Cloudify. In addition, if they want to avoid getting backed-up on questions or bug fixes, they can tap Gigaspaces’ “per-seat service level agreement (SLA)” for developer support.
- Finally, for the Production Phase, when a vendor is ready to sell the product, Gigaspaces offers backend technical support, while the VNF vendor delivers front-end support. At this point, Gigaspaces can offer the pricing model that best fits the customer: revenue sharing, fixed price, or tiered.