Network Functions Virtualization and Software Defined Networking
To remain competitive, today's network operators must respond to evolving markets and traffic types in a timeframe of hours and days rather than the months and years more typical of traditional carrier grade networks.
Software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) are two approaches that decouple network functions from hardware through abstraction, offering unprecedented flexibility and control over customer offerings. SDN and NFV reduce operating and capital expenses (OPEX and CAPEX) through application and hardware consolidation, space and power reduction, and improved operational and support efficiencies.
- Lower hardware costs: Take advantage of the economies of scale of the IT industry by transitioning to high-volume, industry-standard servers from purpose-built equipment that employs expensive specialty hardware components such as custom ASICs.
- Consolidate network equipment: Combine multiple network functions, which today require separate boxes, onto a single server (see Figure 1), thereby reducing system count, floor space, and power cable routing requirements.
- Implement multi-tenancy: Support multiple users on the same hardware platform, cutting down on the amount of equipment network operators need to purchase.
Figure 1: From purpose-built devices to virtualized network functions running on industry-standard servers
- Shorten development and test cycles: Use virtualization to create production, test, and development sandboxes on the same infrastructure, saving time and effort.
- Improve operational efficiency: Simplify operations with standard servers supported by a homogeneous set of tools versus application specific hardware with more complex, unique support requirements.
- Reduce energy consumption: Implement power management features available on standard servers, as well as dynamic workload rebalancing, to lower power consumption during off-peak periods.
Service Revenue Opportunities
- Boost innovation: Bring new capabilities to services development while decreasing risk for network operators by enlisting an ecosystem of independent software vendors (ISVs), open source developers, and academia on the leading edge of virtual appliances.
- Deploy services faster: Save weeks or months when adding new services to network nodes by copying the associated software into a virtual machine (VM) instead of procuring and installing a new network appliance.
- Target service by geography: Increase flexibility for service rollouts to a particular geography or customer by downloading the necessary software only to applicable servers.