We are in the 21st century and continuously innovating new technologies each passing day. In the past few years, we all have seen how these advanced technologies are changing our lives by making it easier. Connectivity, on the other hand, plays a crucial role in not only the IT industry but also in our everyday part of life. We have seen a huge transformation in the way how we are not connected to each other. These days, millions of enterprises and consumers are connected to a network in one form or another. Many businesses have opted for artistic marketing strategies where consumers can directly connect to the brand and also make a conversation.
Enterprises, these days, have extensive branch connectivity. To handle these connections, organizations need virtualized functions that will help in streamlining the business operations and cut maintenance and handling costs. While launching any new network service, organizations often require new hardware appliances, space, and power. Organizations are facing many hardware-based challenges such as the life of technologies are becoming shorter as new technology innovations are coming every other day; deployment cost of hardware appliances for new services affects ROI, etc.
Network function virtualization (NFV) has brought several operational benefits to the IT industry. Since many business operations are being virtualized, networking is no exception to this trend. We can see a slight shift in networking operations getting virtualized. So, let’s know more about Network Function Virtualization.
What is Network Function Virtualization?
Network Function Virtualization (NFV) has come up with new ways to create, distribute, and operate networking services as a part of business operations. NFV is an initiative that is designed to virtualize network services which are traditionally running on proprietary dedicated hardware. It allows network tasks to be performed by software running on hardware appliances.
NFV can also be considered as a consolidated platform for networking components needed to support an infrastructure that is completely independent of hardware appliances. The NFV architecture comprises several functions, such as routing, firewalls, load balancing as virtual machines and virtual network functions (VNFs) as an essential component. NFV architecture promises easy and smooth scaling and also helps in automation of service delivery.
As per the IHS Markit report on NFV, the global NFV market is expected to reach $15 Billion by the year 2020. According to the report, 11% of revenue will come from new software and services, whereas 16% will come from NFV infrastructure.
Architecture of Network Function Virtualization:
NFV architecture majorly comprises three components, Network Function Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI), Virtualized Network Function (VNF), and NFV Management and Orchestration (MANO). In simple terms, these components can be defined as NFVI provides hardware and software environment, VNF helps in software implementations of network functions and MANO is the data repository.
- Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI): Network function virtualization infrastructure is the foundation of the entire architecture. The hardware architecture hosts the virtual machines and the software infrastructure platform helps run network applications.
- Virtual Network Functions (VNFs): It utilizes the virtual machines offered by NFVI. It delivers complex services and makes it easier to monitor and manage functions while ensuring security and availability.
- Management, Automation and Network Orchestration (MANO): It interacts with both the NFVI and VNF blocks. It helps in creating and deleting resources and manages the allocation of the VNFs.
Benefits of Network Function Virtualization:
Since its inception, NFV is rapidly gaining popularity among businesses worldwide. Application of NFV brings many benefits to network operators while also contributing to significant changes in the industry:
- Hardware Flexibility: With NFV, service providers can now choose different vendors and will also have the flexibility to select the hardware capacities that are optimal for their network architecture and planning.
- Cost-efficient: NFV is a cost-effective solution for service providers. It helps in increasing operational efficiency and reduces CAPEX as well as OPEX.
- Scalability and Elasticity: To quickly adapt users’ changing needs and provide enhanced services, network operators need to scale their network architecture across numerous servers. NFV allows capability changes by offering a means to expand and shrink resources used by VNFs.
- Increased Revenue: With the help of NFV, new services can be rolled out faster than expected, whereas existing services can also be improvized faster.
- Improved Consumer Satisfaction: Having an agile infrastructure, the existing and new services will not run out of resources. Every service will be dynamically provisioned with the amount of infrastructure required based on the utilization.