Network functions virtualization (NFV) (also known as virtual network function (VNF)) offers a new way to design, deploy and manage networking services. NFV decouples the network functions, such as network address translation (NAT), firewalling, intrusion detection, domain name service (DNS), and caching, to name a few, from proprietary hardware appliances so they can run in software.
It’s designed to consolidate and deliver the networking components needed to support a fully virtualized infrastructure – including virtual servers, storage, and even other networks. It utilizes standard IT virtualization technologies that run on high-volume service, switch and storage hardware to virtualize network functions. It is applicable to any data plane processing or control plane function in both wired and wireless network infrastructures.
How a Managed Router Service Can be Deployed with NFV
History of Network Functions Virtualization
The concept originated from service providers who were looking to accelerate the deployment of new network services to support their revenue and growth objectives. The constraints of hardware-based appliances led them to applying standard IT virtualization technologies to their networks. To accelerate progress towards this common goal, several providers came together and created the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
The ETSI Industry Specification Group for Network Functions Virtualization (ETSI ISG NFV), a group charged with developing requirements and architecture for virtualization for various functions within telecoms networks, such as standards like NFV MANO. ETSI is also instrumental in collaborative projects like the newly announced OPNFV.
The Benefits of Network Functions Virtualization
NFV virtualizes network services via software to enable operators to:
- Reduce CapEx: reducing the need to purchase purpose-built hardware and supporting pay-as-you-grow models to eliminate wasteful over-provisioning.
- Reduce OpEX: reducing space, power and cooling requirements of equipment and simplifying the roll out and management of network services.
- Accelerate Time-to-Market: reducing the time to deploy new networking services to support changing business requirements, seize new market opportunities and improve return on investment of new services. Also lowers the risks associated with rolling out new services, allowing providers to easily trial and evolve services to determine what best meets the needs of customers.
- Deliver Agility and Flexibility: quickly scale up or down services to address changing demands; support innovation by enabling services to be delivered via software on any industry-standard server hardware.