Network functions virtualization (NFV) Orchestration (NFVO) coordinates the resources and networks needed to set up cloud-based services and applications. This process uses a variety of virtualization software and industry-standard hardware.
Cloud service providers or global telecom operators use NFV orchestration to quickly deploy services, or virtual network functions (VNFs), using cloud software rather than specialized hardware networks. Enterprises can use an end-to-end orchestration along with a management framework to avoid the expense of replacing a multitude of machines at each office to update their systems. Instead, they can use NFV elements and place whatever software they need on whatever hardware they want, updating the software when required.
The big advantage of NFV is that it uses industry-standard commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware to deliver a service via software. Prior to the advent of NFV, operators built application-specific networks using proprietary hardware. Now, these services can be deployed as VNFs on an NFV platform. This could include popular services such as a virtual firewall, virtual load-balancing, or SD-WAN services.
This model allows operators to deploy services more quickly and with more flexibility. Because the specific hardware is not needed with each service, it can all be done with software.
Because NFV requires lots of virtualized resources, it requires a high degree of software management, referred to as orchestration. Orchestration coordinates, connects, monitors, and manages the necessary resources from the platform for the NFV services. Orchestration may coordinate with many network and software elements, including inventory systems, billing systems, provisioning tools, and operating support systems (OSSs).
NFV Orchestration functions govern VNF Managers and Virtualized Infrastructure Managers in the NFV Management and Orchestration (MANO) section as well as the virtualization layer of the Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI). Source: ETSI
Because virtualized networks can span a large number of networks, software elements, and hardware platforms, NFV orchestration tools must be powerful and able to work with many different standards.
Some of the functions typically required by NFV orchestration include:
Service coordination & instantiation: The orchestration software must communicate with the underlying NFV platform to instantiate a service, which means it creates the virtual instance of a service on the platform.
Service chaining: Enables a service to be cloned and multiplied to scale for either a single customer or many customers.
Scaling services: When more services are added, the orchestration software must find and manage sufficient resources to deliver the service.
Service monitoring: Tracks the performance of the platform and resources to make sure they are adequate to provide for good service.
The NFV Orchestrator provides management of the NFV services, which is responsible for onboarding new network services (NS) and VNF packages; NS lifecycle management; global resource management; and the validation and authorization of NFVI resource requests.
Updated March 2019