What is NFV?
Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is a network architecture concept that aims to improve the agility, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness of network services by using virtualization techniques to replace dedicated hardware with software running on standard servers, switches, and storage devices. In this way, NFV allows CSP´s to deploy network functions in a more agile and efficient way, reducing the need for specialized hardware, and enabling the deployment of new services more quickly and with less risk.
Traditionally, network services have been delivered using dedicated hardware appliances, such as routers, firewalls, and load balancers, which are designed to perform specific functions. These appliances are typically expensive, inflexible, and require specialized skills to manage and maintain. NFV, on the other hand, is based on the idea of using general-purpose hardware, such as commodity servers and switches, to run virtualized network functions (VNFs) that can be deployed and managed using standard IT tools and processes.
The key benefits of NFV include:
Agility: NFV enables network operators to quickly deploy new services and features, and to scale up or down as demand changes. This is because virtualized network functions can be easily deployed and managed using automated tools and processes.
Flexibility: NFV allows network operators to mix and match different network functions from different vendors, and to dynamically configure and reconfigure network services as needed. This is because virtualized network functions are software-based, and can be easily customized and integrated with other software components.
Cost-effectiveness: NFV can significantly reduce the cost of network services by using commodity hardware and software, and by enabling network operators to leverage economies of scale in data centers and cloud environments.
To implement NFV, network operators typically deploy a virtualization infrastructure layer (VIL) that provides the necessary resources to host virtualized network functions. The VIL typically includes compute, storage, and networking resources, as well as virtualization software that enables the creation and management of virtual machines (VMs) and containers.On top of the VIL, network operators can deploy virtualized network functions (VNFs) that provide specific network services. VNFs can be developed by network operators themselves, or by third-party vendors. VNFs can be deployed and managed using standard IT tools and processes, and can be scaled up or down as needed.
To orchestrate and manage the deployment of VNFs, network operators typically use a network functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVI) management and orchestration (MANO) system. The NFVI-MANO system provides the tools and processes needed to deploy, configure, and manage VNFs across the virtualization infrastructure layer. The NFVI-MANO system also provides the necessary interfaces and APIs to integrate with other network management and orchestration systems.
The NFV architecture is designed to be highly scalable and flexible, allowing network operators to deploy and manage VNFs in a variety of environments, including data centers, private clouds, and public clouds. The NFV architecture also supports a wide range of use cases, including virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE), virtualized evolved packet core (vEPC), and virtualized radio access network (vRAN).
NFV is an important technology for the evolution of network services, as it enables network operators to deliver new services and features more quickly and at a lower cost than traditional hardware-based approaches. NFV also enables network operators to adapt to changing market conditions and customer needs, and to deliver network services in a more agile and efficient way.