Global operators are increasingly looking at using NFV software and industry-standard hardware to deploy enterprise applications rather than using integrated, proprietary hardware and software systems. Enterprise applications that can be deployed with NFV software include virtual firewalls, IP–VPNs, load balancing, application acceleration, Wide Area Network (WAN) connectivity and optimization services, and network services using virtual customer premises equipment (CPE).
Provisioning VNFs with Software
An operator can use NFV software model to provision virtual network functions (VNFs) for the customer without the need for specific hardware. This enables more “service agility” because specific hardware is not needed to provision a VNFs.
Using NFV software has major benefits such as reduced capital expenditure (capex), by reducing the amount of required hardware; reduced operating expense (opex), by increasing the speed and automation with which services are provisioned; and increased management efficiencies of using software only. For example, software updates can be issued over the network rather than requiring on-site visits or “truck rolls.”
Software Initiatives and Standards
NFV software applies to a group of technologies being deployed by networking vendors and service providers. Several groups have developed standards or architectural models for deployment. For example, the NFV MANO is a working group (WG) of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute Industry Specification Group (ETSI ISG NFV). The ETSI-defined framework governs the management and orchestration of all resources in the cloud data center, including computing, networking, storage, and virtual machine (VM) resources.
CloudNFV is a group effort to provide and open management architecture for deploying NFV in a cloud environment using open standards. Cloud NFV was formed by 6Wind, CIMI Corp., Dell Inc., Enterprise Web, Overture Networks, and Qosmos in 2013 and joined by other companies, including Metaswitch, later.
Many service providers, equipment vendors, and software vendors have built upon the ETSI MANO and CloudNFV work to deliver specific NFV software than can handle the orchestration, provisioning, and management VNFs to customers using the cloud. In 2015, many service providers announced plans for the deployment of new NFV installations, including Telefonica and NTT Docomo.
For the customer, a Cloud NFV approach has many benefits, including the capability to provision services using a Web interface and manage the service without complicated proprietary hardware configurations.