Millions of companies and businesses are connected to one network or another in any form. This has led to an increase in the number and size of the systems and data centers where this information goes through. Network Function Virtualization (NFV) aims at easing this burden by moving some network functions to generic servers.
What is Network Function Virtualization?
Network Function Virtualization offers a new way to manage networking services. This moves the functions from proprietary hardware appliances to software. It is applicable to functions by data plane processing and control plane whether or not these are wireless or wired infrastructures. It offers a refined way of designing, deploying and managing of network services. It uses standard IT visualization techniques which generally rely on high volume service.
The History behind Network Function Virtualization
Network Function Virtualization came about as providers realized that they had a lag in deployment of new network services. This was particularly noted on those who wanted to align these networks with their growth and revenue objectives. They then realized that the standard hardware-based solutions were not sufficient and posed challenges, thus leading to improving their networks through the application of standard IT visualization techniques.
In a bid to accelerate the solution and achieve a common goal, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) was formed by some of the providers. ETSI was thus tasked with developing architecture and requirements for virtualization of the various functions within a network.
What Value Does Network Function Virtualization Add?
Network Function Virtualization proposes to add value in the networking process. Some of the value added includes:
End-to-end IMS and EPC NFV networks are more predictable. There is also high reliability and availability.
- IMS and EPC virtual network functions can be load tested
- VM migration, elasticity, service chain and multitenant features are validated. Additionally, so are the coexisting virtual and physical network functions
Network Function Virtualization has some advantages including:
- Increased Flexibility. You are able to scale your network up or down more easily depending on the business’s needs.
- Faster service rollouts are experienced in changing business requirements. This is because NFV reduces the time it takes to deploy networking services. This therefore also improves on the return on investment.
- Operational simplicity is greatly improved
- Lower OpEX: This involves reducing the requirements for space, power and cooling systems. It simplifies rolling out and managing of network services.
- Lowers CapEX: This involves eliminating overprovision of hardware and instead shifts this function to pay-as-you-grow models.
- This software governed network eliminates the need for hardware changes. This allows for faster innovations.
NFV saves on capital investment and generates revenue
Network Function Virtualization also has some limiting factors. These include:
- Managing IT in abstract, which is different from conventional IT
- The NFV environment might require scaling up in order to provide for additional features since they are more dynamic.
- NFV has to coexist with physical devices in a cloud-integrated environment.
- It requires realignment because virtual and traditional software have to be managed simultaneously.
These challenges can be addressed and catered for with time in order to grow Network Function Virtualization as a viable environment for different areas. Being able to address this challenges allows you to make the most of NFV.
Choosing the Right Scenario
Before embarking on the implementation of Network Function Virtualization, you need to consider a few things. One is that this initial implementation is ideal for cases that can significantly cut down on the risk for Communication Service Providers (CSPs) operations staff. These are:
- Deployment of networks in areas where the Communication Service Provider does not have any physical deployment, or in cases where it could be limited. This is known as Greenfield deployment.
- Communication Service Providers that are looking to offer new services fast and in a cost effective manner. This is known as New Service Offering.
- New players in the sector who are looking to partner with other Communication Service Providers who already have existing physical networks. This is known as Virtual Network Operations.
Is it reliable?
For the larger part, NFV is reliable. The advantages as outlined are enough to convince any business owner to consider this. However, as is with everything else, there are limitations that need to be addressed in order to make Network Function Virtualization even better. This will take time and investment in research in order to come up with the best practices and improvements on what is already in the market.
Network Function Virtualization has played a key role in increasing the efficiency of networks. Some of the cost saving implications on businesses has led to significant capital investment savings. The flexibility and agility introduced through these virtual functions has also had far-reaching effects to businesses that have changing needs. NFV is reliable and ought to be considered by any organization or brand that intends to keep up with the ever-changing technology. This makes it a great channel to improve the effectiveness of any network across the board.
Shannon Dunn is a contributor for The Monitor Monitor where you can find reviews and guides for selecting great monitors and peripherals for your computer.