NFV

WHAT IS IT?

Network functions virtualization (NFV) is the concept of replacing dedicated network appliances — such as routers and firewalls — with software running on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers. The aim of NFV is to transform the way communication service providers (CSPs) architect networks and deliver network services. Network operations are transformed as network function software is dynamically instantiated in various locations in the network as needed, without requiring the installation of new equipment.

THE PROBLEM

NFV technology separates networking tasks like network address translation (NAT), firewalling, intrusion detection, load balancing, domain name service (DNS), WAN optimization and caching from the hardware they run on. Without NFV, organizations typically deploy multiple specialized appliances in order to meet their needs for these various services. But with NFV, organizations can use standardized, commodity hardware running software in a virtual machine (VM) to serve these various functions. It is different from but complementary to software-defined networking (SDN), and the two technologies are often deployed in tandem.

The earliest proponents of NFV were service providers, who were attracted by the technology’s promised cost savings and greater agility. They helped create some early NFV standards under the auspices of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). Now, enterprises are also becoming more interested in deploying NFV technology for a variety of reasons.

Replacing dedicated appliances with shared servers dramatically reduces hardware costs. Operational costs also decrease with fewer appliances to deploy and maintain and the ability to offer on-demand pay-as-you-go deployment models. But the key advantage is the increase in the speed of bringing revenue-generating services to market. NFV brings unprecedented agility and flexibility and enables innovation nu turning the network edge into a factory for virtual network functions (VNFs.)

THE CHALLENGES

NFV deployment has seen relatively slow progress due to a lack of standards in NFV management, automation and orchestration (MANO). MANO provides the framework for provisioning VNFs and managing NFV infrastructure. It also helps components within NFV infrastructure communicate with existing operational and billing support systems (OSS/BSS).

Part of the challenge for NFV adoption is the number of standards and open source projects being conducted to promote NFV development. For example, a short list includes ETSI, Open Platform for NFV, Open Network Automation Platform, Open Source MANO and MEF — formerly the Metro Ethernet Forum.

With so many competing approaches — all backed by various service providers and operators — settling on an approach that offers usable capabilities for the whole industry is problematic. As a result, some service providers are uncertain which standards will be adopted and are more hesitant to invest in them.

THE STRATOSS™ SOLUTION

StratOSS™ is a cloud native product, designed to deliver web-scale levels of operational automation for the cloud-based networking world – both to telco and enterprise service providers. A new OSS “in the control plane”, StratOSS™ automates the ongoing operational lifecycle of virtual network services from onboarding to ongoing maintenance.

Leveraging movements such as DevOps and tools such as behaviour driven testing from the enterprise IT community, combined with Accanto’s unique intent-based orchestration engine, we have proven that we can achieve 30 times less operational effort for ongoing maintenance of virtual network services.

StratOSS provides an infinite service lifecycle loop

BENEFITS

NFV virtualization of network services via software will enable network operators to:

  • Reduce the cost of building networks (CapEx) by supporting pay-as-you-grow model to eliminate wasteful overprovisioning
  • Reduce the cost of operations (OpEx) by reducing equipment requirements and management of network services
  • Deliver agility and flexibility by quick scaling up or down services to address changing demands
  • Accelerate time-to-market by allowing easy trial and evolve services to determine best meet practices