Let’s dive a little into what network function virtualization (NFV) means for telecom providers. Firstly, let’s start with the basics. NFV was born in 2012 when the ‘NFV Call to Action’ document was introduced. Now, 9 years later we have become familiar with the term as well as the technology. For instance, we know now that the essential mission of NFV, is to limit or even stop the use of networking hardware. In simple terms, network functions virtualization (NFV) is the replacement of network appliance hardware with virtual machines. Nowadays, the virtual machines use a hypervisor to run networking software and processes such as routing and load balancing. This mainly is because network managers no longer need additional investments or manual configurations in hardware devices to perform certain functionalities. NFV architecture virtualizes network functions and eliminates specific hardware therefore, network managers can add, move, or change network functions at the server level in a ‘simplified’ provisioning process.
This is all great, but does the use of NFV suit your specific needs? To answer this question, we have outlined the pros, cons and requirements of NFV in this blog.
Moving on, let’s get more into context. For instance, the key benefits of NFV are:
- Reduced investments on network equipment via migration to the software on standard servers.
- Proficiencies in space, power, and cooling.
- Robust deployment.
- Flexible and accessible.
Like most technologies that are introduced in the telecommunications industry, a large portion of improvements are made, but often with a few downsides to accompany them. Because NFV is a function of SDN, it can suffer from some limitations, when not configured or integrated correctly.
Some of the specific challenges facing NFV going forward include:
- Having to coexist in a cloud-integrated hybrid environment with physical devices could cause performance issues, when implemented insufficiently.
- Unlike conventional network infrastructures, NFV requires management outside of the network infrastructure devices, which could be seen as an element of missing controllability.
- NFV environments are more dynamic than traditional ones, which might require scaling up resources and additional features. The IT team and organization should be ready for this.
- NFV also demands a process realignment so that traditional and virtual infrastructure can be managed simultaneously.
To meet the requirements of a transition towards virtualization, an architecture must provide:
- Support for dynamic, real-time network and service changes in response to network events.
- Interworking with SDN controllers.
- Support for a modeling approach to network services.
- Interworking with network orchestration platforms.
- Separation of network configuration and management of network state.
Network function virtualization is proven technology and used for some time now. Fairbanks has been working with several clients to design, build and maintain their virtualized network infrastructures. It is a dynamic technology always on the move to improve network capabilities and quality. It would be great to hear your thought about it in the comments below!
Source: Sukumar Sasidharan.