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Network Function Virtualization

Overview

NFV is way to reduce cost and accelerate service deployment for network operators by decoupling functions from dedicated hardware and moving them to virtual servers.

Today’s telecom networks are primarily built using specialized, often proprietary, equipment. (In the telecom industry, proprietary often means a technology or solution that is owned by a single company.) Some examples of typical telecom equipment are routers, switches, base stations, firewalls, voice gateways, and IMS and Mobile Packet Core. These types of equipment are typically monolithic in design; that is, they consist of hardware, software, and associated management systems. This type of architecture often leads to silos of operations, vendor lock-in, and the inability to respond to changing demands in an agile way.

NFV redefines the way typical network functions are delivered and operated in a CSP network.

Architecture

The NFV reference model comprises of three main subsets: NFVI, VNFs, and NFV Management  & Orchestration (MANO).

  1. The NFVI (NFV Infrastructure) specifies various physical resources and how abstraction of those resources are virtualized.
  2. The VNFs (Virtual Network Functions) are simply network node or network functions (NF) running as virtual instance on top of VMs (virtual machines).
  3. The management and configuration of VNFs and other subsets of the NFV reference model is done through NFV MANO toolsets. The NFV MANO presents VIM (Virtual Infrastructure Manager), VNF manager, and Orchestrator.

Benefit

NFV transformation promises to bring major business, technology, and operational benefits to increase carriers’ competitiveness:

  • Greater business agility. The ability to offer new services to cater to changing consumer demands, rapidly scale applications up or down, and move applications in the network as desired
  • New opportunities and more innovation: Innovative new business opportunities are possible with virtualization technologies and a platform that can host applications developed in a collaborative ecosystem. NFV encourages innovation by enabling CSPs to adopt a fast fail approach to introduction of new services. Since the cost and effort in introducing and rolling out new services is much lower, new services that were considered too risky to try out can now be experimented with in a controlled manner.
  • Faster time‐to‐market: Rapidly introduce new services by reducing the time it takes to deploy and validate new software applications (from months to minutes).
  • Improved business processes: Virtualization enables applications to be decoupled from their underlying infrastructure. This creates opportunities for automation and business process management (BPM) re‐engineering initiatives.
  • Optimized OpEX and Reduce CapEX.

Deliverables

  • Virtual Customer Premise Equipment (vCPE).
  • Virtual Evolve Packet Core (vEPC).