- Chapter 1: A VNF Primer
- Chapter 2: Economic Impact of NFV and VNF
- Chapter 3: NFV Use Cases for VNFs
- Chapter 4: VNF Migration Challenges
- Chapter 5: NFV and VNF Market Dynamics – Survey Results
- Chapter 6: NFV VNF Report Conclusion
- Chapter 7: Leading NFV VNF Products
- Chapter 8: Acceleration, Optimization, Caching Products
- Chapter 9: Network Services Products
- Chapter 10: IMS and VoLTE Products
- Chapter 11: Mobile Packet Core / Gateways Products
- Chapter 12: SD-WAN and Virtual CPE (vCPE) Products
- Chapter 13: Security Products
- Chapter 14: Service Assurance & Monitoring Products
- Chapter 15: vRAN / cRAN Products
- Chapter 16: vRouters / vSwitches
- Chapter 17: Solution Suites or Other VNF
2017 NFV Report Series Part 3: Powering NFV – Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) is also available as a PDF Download
Communication service providers (CSPs) worldwide continue to invest in virtualization of their network infrastructure, laying the groundwork for 5G and IoT services. And to realize the dream of decoupling network services from proprietary hardware, and deploying networking components supported by a fully virtualized infrastructure, CSPs have been pushing vendors to disaggregate specialized networking equipment in favor of open architectures.
Across our three-part NFV report series, we’ve covered how vendors and CSPs alike have made significant investment across the board, ranging from industry-standard commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware, to hypervisors and Virtualized Infrastructure Managers (VIMs), to Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) and the management and orchestration (MANO) necessary to deploy these functions.
This final report in the NFV Report series covers the latest in NFV VNFs (virtual network functions), the workhorse of NFV. These are the actual network functions that provide the desired network services. VNFs benefit from the underlying NFV Infrastructure (NFVI) that host these services and provide the appropriate virtualization capabilities as well as NFV MANO that orchestrates and manages the VNFs and the NFV Infrastructure to roll out NFV services.
CSPs and vendors alike are busy trying to virtualize their existing network services, and are working on ensuring that these VNFs have adequate and consistent performance running on commercial off-the-shelf server hardware. Similar challenges abound with making sure these virtual instances can be managed efficiently. Simple porting of physical network functions into a VM does not usually achieve the necessary price-performance to make NFV deployable at scale. And so vendors are hard at work rewriting and adapting many of these VNFs.
In the meantime, CSPs are starting to convert their NFV implementations from POCs into productions and pushing their vendors to create suites of VNFs for popular services such as vCPE (virtual customer premise equipment)/SD-WAN (software-defined wide-area networks), vEPC (virtual evolved packet core) and others including vRAN/cRAN (virtual and cloud radio access networks). At the same time, we are seeing some early examples of NFVaaS (NFV as a service) and VNFaaS (VNF as a service) show up, allowing CSPs to take a public-cloud approach to NFV.
Challenges still exist regarding VNF migration, including performance optimization and tuning, and we still face significant challenges in terms of VNF pricing and licensing. Accounting for VNF use and figuring out how to charge and how much to charge continues to be an area of active development. As well, ensuring compatibility of VNFs with the underlying NFVI and certifying these VNF clusters with appropriate MANO systems remain an open challenge, with NFV certification a topic of active discussion among the key standards and open-source bodies.