NFVI is the hardware and software resources that make up the NFV environment, which can vary greatly from organization to organization, depending on the network’s complexity and geographic distribution. This includes any network connectivity between data centers or clouds as well as the physical compute, storage and networking equipment that provides processing, storage and connectivity to VNFs through the virtualization layer. ETSI standards dictate that NFVI must secure, provide high availability, and support a service level agreements.
Other supporting services for NFV, such as service catalogs, external testing and external monitoring will likely be built into the NFVI over time, as they become a critical part of the infrastructure and are increasingly relied on to ensure the uptime and performance of the systems.
The virtualization layer sits right above the hardware and abstracts the resources, so they can be logically partitioned and provided to the VNF to perform their functions. (It decouples the VNF software from the underlying hardware, so the VNF can use the appropriate virtualized resources to execute its function.)
There isn’t a specific solution required for an NFV deployment to work, rather the NFV architecture can leverage an existing virtualization layer, such as a hypervisor, with standard features that are simply capable of abstracting hardware resources and pointing to VNFs. When hypervisor support is not available, organizations often achieve the virtualization layer through an operating system (OS) that adds software on top of a non-virtualized server or by implementing the VNF as an application.
This product area is expanding rapidly as the NFVI is built out. As described in the “market landscape” sections, different vendors have different approaches to building the NFV Infrastructure, and very few vendors have all of the components. The industry ecosystem is being formed as vendors forge many partnerships, including leveraging open source components in their portfolio.
While many vendors claim they offer NFVI, their portfolios vary widely, making it difficult for network pros to make investment decisions. The good news is that the ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group has outlined a few basic elements that make an NFVI environment work.
Another interesting trend to watch is how some vendors are integrating NFVI components into their existing hardware and software portfolios to provide differentiation.
- 6WIND: 6WIND Virtual Accelerator
- 6WIND: 6WINDGate Packet Processing Software
- ADVA Optical Networking: FSP 150 ProVM
- Aricent: Fast Path Accelerator
- *Brocade: Brocade Vyatta Network OS
- Cavium Networks: Cavium ThunderX ARMv8 Processors
- *Cisco Systems: Cisco NFV Infrastructure
- Corsa Technology: Corsa 10G/100G SDN Switches
- Dell: Dell Open Networking Switches
- EMC: EMC Provider Cloud System (PCS)
- Ericsson: Ericsson Cloud Execution Environment
- EZchip: NPS-400 Network Processor
- Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE): HPE NFV System Family
- Intel: Intel Open Network Platform Server
- Mellanox Technologies: Mellanox MSX1410-OCP
- Midokura: Midokura Enterprise MidoNet
- Netronome: Netronome Agilio CX 10 GbE and 40GbE Intelligent Server Adapter
- NoviFlow Inc.: NoviFlow NoviSwitch 2128
- NoviFlow Inc.: NoviWare
- Nuage Networks Virtualized Services Platform (VSP)
- Red Hat: Red Hat NFV Platform
- *Wind River: Titanium Server