What You Should Know about Network Function Virtualization (NFV) - ETI

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February 5, 2021

What You Should Know about Network Function Virtualization (NFV)

Network service providers have many options when modernizing service delivery: cloud interconnects, SD-WAN, SDN, vCPE, NFV, etc. Geography often plays a deciding role. ETI Software’s VP of Engineering, David Tidd, discusses NFV and how ETI is working with providers to implement it.

What is NFV?

Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is an architectural concept of virtualizing proprietary network nodes in simplest form. When chaining virtualized network nodes together, NFV, becomes a building block on which communication services are built.

How do you virtualize proprietary network functions?

First one must avoid vendor lock-in. Implementing a strategy to “white box” hardware (also called commodity servers) will have an immediate effect on initial expense. Using software to emulate the network node function upon generic equipment adds programmability into each solution.

To accomplish this there are three main layers:

  • hardware infrastructure
  • software providing the specific network function (routing, switches, media, firewalls, VPN, IPsec tunnels, dhcp, dns, etc.)
  • automation and orchestration for management

Virtualizing in this manner saves both CapEx and OpEx: CapEx from the initial expense, OpEx by simply being repurposed with new intent or quickly reimagined.

What does NFV require?

NFV’s primary purpose is to replace highly reliable network appliances. To successfully accomplish this mission it requires:

  • High performance and reliable network
  • Scalability, often to tens of millions of customers
  • Low latency
  • Ability and flexibility to integrate with legacy architectures, billing systems, etc.

What are top benefits for using NFV?

  • Reduced costs of purchasing network equipment by using software on traditional servers
  • Efficiencies in energy and reduction of physical space
  • Short deployment timelines
  • Elasticity to “right size,” scaling up, down or horizontally to manage consumption
  • Ability to use open source, such as OpenStack, solutions to continue reduction of vendor lock-in

A comprehensive strategy for network function virtualization can have a profound effect on profitability. It comes with challenges: many operators aren’t prepared to deploy NFV at scale. Partner with ETI and begin to successfully realize NFV for your organization.

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