Network functions virtualization (NFV) elements (or NFV Elements) are the discrete hardware and software requirements that are managed in an NFV installation to provide new communications services and applications services on commodity-based hardware.
NFV services are deployed on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware platform, typically run on Intel X86-based hardware and standard switching hardware. The early model of NFV, ETSI MANO, is a common reference architecture. The NFV architecture developed by ETSI MANO includes Elemental Management Systems (EMS), which describe how individual VNFs are managed on a commodity hardware platform.
Faster Services Delivery
The main appeal of using NFV to deploy network elements and virtual network functions (VNFs) is that services can be launched more quickly, by installing software on a standard hardware platform. This is akin to the way software applications could be developed and launched for the PC platform when it first emerged. Another advantage is lower capital expenditures because standardized hardware platforms tend to drive down costs.
The NFV model also adds flexibility, allowing service providers to launch, improve, and incrementally optimize services using software updates rather than wholesale hardware replacement. It will also create an “ecosystem” of third-party software vendors eager to supply improvement.
Inside the VNF
In a telecom network, a network elements are defined as logical systems, usually connected to specific physical hardware or facilities, used to deliver a service. In the NFV, these elements become virtualized as software installations are placed on commodity hardware.
The purpose of using an NFV platform is to host various VNFs.
Some of the VNFs and elements possible include the following:
- Application Acceleration
- Application Delivery Controllers/Load Balancers
- DDoS Protection
- Deep-packet Inspection
- Evolved Packet Core (EPC) functions
- Intrusion Prevention
- Network Brokering, Tapping, or Monitoring
- Policy Management
- Virtual Firewalls
- Virtual Routing & Switching
- WAN Optimization Controller
This list is not exhaustive, but it represents some of the more popular service-provider applications that have existed in networks that are being converted to NFV elements. Just about any traditional communication functions can be turned into an element on an NFV platform, and certainly many new services will be developed.