Take a Closer Look: What is Network Function Virtualization

Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is top of mind for many companies these days, because of the potential savings it can produce. But what exactly is NFV? And how does it produce these cost-saving benefits?

Network Function Virtualization

NFV is the migration of software from hardware to a hypervisor (aka, virtual machine). Such software could include any components that provides a function on the user or control plane over IP. For example, it could encompass any component that comprises the EPC, Information Management System (IMS), or application servers.

All of these components function because of the software that was created to support the features that were defined by the specifications for that particular network component. IP is the transport mechanism for many, if not all, of these components. Therefore, it makes sense to use giant network interfaces (10g or 100g) on commodity hardware that is stacked up with processors and memory.

Essentially, the communications service provider (CSP) is building a cloud with massive throughput. This process allows the company to select the hypervisor that best meets its virtualization needs. Moreover, the hardware is cheaper and it becomes faster and more seamless for a CSP to ramp up or allocate resources in strategic markets.

Why Choose Network Function Virtualization

A key reason CSPs leverage virtual environments is to achieve capital and operational expenditure savings. For instance, they can save on cooling, powering, and managing a single component versus six individual components. And this is just one example of many.

However, even though these functions become virtual, organizations still need to understand the customer experience on its networks. After all, how else would they know where, when, and what to resources needed to be allocated?

I look forward to expanding on the topic of NFV at the PCIA Wireless Infrastructure show on October 9, 2013. In the meantime, if you want to continue the discussion on the benefits of NFVs, please feel free to leave me a comment below.

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