- Chapter 1: The Components of an NFV Architecture
- Chapter 2: NFV Use Cases
- Chapter 3: NFV Evolution & Key Criteria in Selecting NFV Components & Solutions
- Chapter 4: 2015 NFV Report Product Categories
Introduction: Network Functions Virtualization Trends
The 2015 Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) Report is designed to provide you valuable insights into the trends and progress of the NFV market. As we start to see more and more proof of concepts trialed within service provider, and even enterprise networks, it is more important than ever to understand the dramatic sea change that NFV represents within the networking industry.
NFV delivers network functionality via software, so that it can be deployed on virtual and general purpose, industry-standard hardware to support the varied networking needs of a service provider or enterprises’ application, server and storage infrastructures. This Report is designed to capture the architectures/designs, use cases and vendors that make up the NFV market. It provides:
- An overview of NFV, describing its history, architectural components and potential benefits.
- General use cases for NFV technologies.
- Details on different vendor offerings to provide early insights into the capabilities and maturity of different solutions.
Brief: What is NFV?
Network functions virtualization (NFV) decouples network services from the hardware that delivers them. As a result, functions, such as network address translation (NAT), firewalling, intrusion detection, domain name service (DNS) and caching, can be delivered in software and deployed on general purpose appliances. This gives organizations a lot more flexibility in the way they design, deploy and manage their network services.
A Little History
NFV originated within the highly competitive service provider community, as they looked for ways to cut costs and accelerate the roll out of profitable services to better monetize their networks and grow their revenues. Hardware-based network appliances, which are typically expensive and complex to deploy and manage, were limiting the providers’ ability to consolidate functionality and quickly trial new services.
Within an increasingly virtualized environment, providers wanted to be able to deploy network functionality whenever and wherever it was needed; they didn’t want to be tied to the capabilities of a specific appliance or topology. They felt if they could decouple the network services from the hardware, it would allow them to deploy networking components that could truly fit and support a fully virtualized infrastructure, including servers, storage and even other networks.
A few providers came together, within the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s (ETSI) and created the Industry Specification Group (ISG) for NFV to accelerate the progress of virtualizing network functions. Launched in January of 2013, the ETSI ISG for NFV has been working to develop the requirements and architecture of virtualized network functions in a telecommunication’s network.
In September of 2014, the Linux Foundation announced the Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV), which is an open source, carrier-grade integrated platform that aims to help bring new NFV products and services to the industry faster. The goal is to make the recommendations and standards that come out of the ETSI ISG a reality, by leveraging the cumulative resources of the open source community. ETSI ISG for NFV and OPNFV will work closely to advance NFV concepts and technologies.
We are starting to see some of the fruits of the industry’s labor, with NFV trials within service provider and (to a lesser extent) enterprise environments. This past year, the industry saw a number of proof of concepts being trialed within enterprise and provider environments to address business use cases that are covered later in this report.
Relevance of NFV to Enterprises
Many enterprise networks are not that dissimilar from a service provider’s environment. With highly virtualized application, server and storage infrastructures, enterprises can also benefit from the efficiencies and flexibility that NFV can offer. As more enterprises move more of their workflows to the cloud, the virtualized services of NFV can be used to integrate and support the network service needs of those cloud architectures. This is why we are starting to see enterprises, particularly those looking to reduce costs by consolidating functionality on common, industry-standard platforms and quickly roll out services to their users and customers, develop proof of concepts for NFV deployments.
How does NFV Relate to SDN?
NFV is complementary to software-defined networking (SDN), which offers centralized visibility and control over the network. While they both improve the overall manageability of the network, NFV and SDN have slightly different goals and rely on different methods to achieve them. SDN separates the control and forwarding planes to offer a centralized view of the network, while NFV primarily focuses on optimizing the network services themselves. While potentially viewed as orthogonal, having SDN technology enables the flexible routing of traffic within an NFV infrastructure to improve the efficiency and maximize the overall agility of the network.