While NFV has had the communications industry abuzz for the last two years with its promises of capex and opex savings, challenges still loom large with the technology. One such challenge is ensuring proper deployment of the various enabling technologies in the underlying architecture so that service providers can take advantage of the benefits of NFV.
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The big vision for network functions virtualization (NFV) is that the network becomes one big data center of distributed network functions such as evolved packet core, 3G wireless nodes, broadband network gateways, provider edge, routers, firewalls and more. This sounds pretty straightforward, but those in the industry know there are underlying complexities that pose challenges. Among those challenges:
- Each telco service delivered to the broadband consumer comes with a service SLA which must be achieved and enforced. This must also take into account how to achieve proper scale as service adoption ensues.
- Control on network topology, VNF location, link bandwidths and QoS guarantees are hugely important to service providers. This is the foundation on which they must deliver their services.
- The virtual network functions will be delivered by many different vendors. Unless the community embraces a very well understood and open standard-based service information model this new flexibility will become difficult to manage and will in itself become a problem.
To validate an NFV deployment approach, Intel, Telefónica, Cyan, Brocade and Red Hat collaborated to implement and demonstrate a complete ETSI-NFV end-to-end service deployment solution stack.
ETSI End-to-End NFV Architecture
The ETSI-NFV reference architecture defines a layered approach to such an NFV deployment.
(Source: "End to End Network Function Virtualization Architecture Instantiation;" Intel, Brocade, Cyan, Red Hat and Telefonica; March 2015)
They determined that in ensuring virtual network functions (VNF) performance it is important to expose the relevant virtualized infrastructure attributes up through the new NFV delivery stack.
In addition, the information models describing the resource requirements for the VNF and a global service scenario are key to enabling NFV provisioning layers to make intelligent and optimal deployment decisions. This allows the NFV orchestration platform to intelligently deploy well-designed VNF and also delivers the improved total cost of ownership NFV promises due to a more efficient use of the underlying infrastructure.
Detailed in a whitepaper, "End to End Network Function Virtualization Architecture Instantiation," the collaboration effort of these companies showed that true end-to-end NFV aware systems designs will deliver the improvements required for Telco-grade performance. In addition, they concluded that the properly designed NFV solution will not only reduce the network total cost of ownership, but also allow a new ecosystem of VNF providers to flourish.
Read the whitepaper and learn more about other aspects of the New IP in our Resources section. (I bet you didn't even know we had one!)
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP