Network functions virtualization (NFV) sometimes goes by another name in the industry — virtual network function (VNF). Often used interchangeably, both focus primarily on optimization of the network services, contrary to software-defined networking (SDN), which separates the control and forwarding plane for a centralized view of the network. Network functions virtualization, offers a new way to design, deploy and manage networking services, by decoupling the network functions, such as network address translation (NAT), fire-walling, intrusion detection, domain name service (DNS), and caching, to name a few, from proprietary hardware appliances so they can run in software.
It’s designed to combine and deliver the networking components needed to support a fully virtualized infrastructure – including virtual servers, storage, and even other networks. It utilizes standard IT virtualization technologies that run on high-volume service, switch and storage hardware to virtualize network functions. It is applicable to any data plane processing or control plane function in both wired and wireless network infrastructures.
What are the main benefits of Network Functions Virtualization?
- Deliver Agility and Flexibility: quickly scale up or down services to address changing demands; support innovation by enabling services to be delivered via software on any industry-standard server hardware.
- Reduce OpEX: reducing space, power and cooling requirements of equipment and simplifying the roll out and management of network services.
- Accelerate Time-to-Market: reducing the time to deploy new networking services to support changing business requirements, seize new market opportunities and improve return on investment of new services. Also lowers the risks associated with rolling out new services, allowing providers to easily trial and evolve services to determine what best meets the needs of customers.
- Reduce CapEx: reducing the need to purchase purpose-built hardware and supporting pay-as-you-grow models to eliminate wasteful over-provisioning.