VNFs can’t arrive too soon for most service providers and enterprise IT organizations alike. With the rise of cloud computing, it’s never been more apparent that networking needs to be software-defined and the economic impact of NFV will be significant. It’s simply not feasible to ship and update physical networking appliances as the demands of the network and subscribers change dynamically.
Financial and Time-to-Market Benefits of VNFs
NFV will have major economic impact, and some CSPs have already seen the early benefits. It’s a lot simpler to deploy and manage VNFs than physical proprietary network appliances. In effect, VNFs are much like any other application consisting of multiple components. Adding new functionality to a VNF can occur more regularly as part of any structured approach to developing software. Eliminating the need to deploy that software on a specific type of appliance dramatically reduces the total cost of managing the overall networking environment.
But as welcome a benefit as VNFs may provide from a cost perspective, the bigger benefit is derived from the agility VNFs enable. Today, many service provider or enterprise IT organization can provision virtual server and storage resources in a matter of minutes. But it still takes the majority of them weeks to provision the associated networking resources. Unless service providers and enterprise IT organizations can manage elements of the networks as a virtual entity, strategic initiatives surrounding, for example, digital business transformations, will never be accomplished.
Business leaders have made it clear they need access to IT resources that can scale up and down as needed. Having to wait weeks for networking resources to be provisioned only serves to push more application workloads on to public clouds that have invested heavily in developing SDNs that can be programmatically invoked. The trouble is that in that absence of NFV/VNF standards, organizations find themselves locked into a single cloud provider. At the same time, there’s also entire classes of application workloads that can’t be deployed on a public cloud for either regulatory or performance reasons. A standards approach to NFV/VNF frameworks will not only level the service provider playing field; it will also be crucial to developing hybrid cloud computing deployment that allow service providers and enterprise IT organizations to seamless deploy application workloads wherever and whenever they see fit.