Network Function Virtualization – NFV

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is an initiative to virtualize network functions – both data plane as well as control plane, basically any function that was previously carried out by proprietary, dedicated hardware devices such as a switch, router, modem, etc., that typically was a dedicated hardware coupled with necessary software and management functions. It aims to transform traditional networks that was characterized by single box solutions from multiple vendors into the next generation network architecture by leveraging industry standard IT virtualization technology to consolidate many virtual network functions onto industry standard high volume servers, switches and storage, which could be located anywhere based on the need, say in Datacenters, Network Nodes and in the end user premises.

ALTEN Calsoft Labs has been working on building a “software centric, vendor agnostic open source” based solutions since 2012, even before the term NFV was officially coined. As pioneers in the Network Function Virtualization space, we have the distinction of providing services to some of the industry’s first NFV Proof of Concepts (PoC) and commercial deployments in L4-L7 Switching, Load Balancing, WAN Optimization, Security Gateways, Virtual Private Network (VPN) Gateways, Virtual CPE (vCPE), Virtual WLAN Controller and Virtual Broadband Remote Access Server (vB-RAS) solutions.

A member of ETSI NFV ISG, ALTEN Calsoft Labs has a team of experts in virtualization techniques, VNF (Vitual Network Function) architecture, Intel® DPDK based VNF performance optimization, VNF development, testing, packaging and deployment in Enterprise and Service Provider environments.

Benefits of Virtualization:

  • Rapid services creation and roll-out
  • Reduced operational complexity eliminating truck roles to end user premises and common operating procedures (standardized)
  • Operational efficiencies achieved through automation, centralization of monitoring functions
  • Power savings due to optimization of hardware resources
  • Standard and open interfaces between network functions and their management entities enabling vendor independence
  • Hardware agnostic enabling freedom from supplier lock-ins
  • Pooling of compute, network and storage resources such that a service provider may deliver services such as cloud computing as well as network services to consumers or enterprise business users
  • Service Providers can run Virtual Network Function (VNF) instances inside an NFV Infrastructure – in order to meet service performance objectives like latency, reliability, high availability, etc.
  • NFV Infrastructure (NFVI) enables Service Provider an additional commercial service offer in addition to existing catalog of network services as well as serve global customers

It is no surprise that as the world of virtualization is making rapid progress, still some open issues exist:

  • Existence of VNF along with traditional non-NFV i.e. physical network elements
  • VNFs from multiple providers must co-exist in a common NFVI
  • Support measurement of SLA related parameters and failure notification and diagnostics in a commercial NFV Infrastructure as a service (NFVIaaS) between service providers

Virtualization Targets:

A number of network functions traditionally are deployed using a dedicated hardware infrastructure in today’s enterprise and service provider networks.

  • Customer Premises Equipment (CPE)
  • Access Router or Edge Router
  • Firewall, IDS/IPS & other security appliances
  • WAN Optimization Controller
  • Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
  • Network Performance Monitoring