C . I . E

Network Function Virtualization now is a world of mouth: every vendor push on this concept and it became an important market trend – as we have the chance to see even in the MWC 2016 of Barcelona last month. But what NFV really means?

Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is a network architecture concept that uses the technologies of IT virtualization to virtualize entire classes of network node functions into building blocks that may connect or chain together, to create communication services.
A virtualized network function – or VFN – may consist of one or more virtual machines running different software and processes, on top of standard high-volume servers, switches and storage, or even cloud computing infrastructure, instead of having custom hardware appliances for each network function.

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The NFV Framework consists of three main components:

  1. Virtualized network functions (VNFs) are software implementations of network functions that can be deployed on a network function virtualization infrastructure (NVFI);
  2. Network function virtualization infrastructure (NFVI) is the totality of all the hardware and software components that build the environment where VFNs are deployed;
  3. Network functions virtualization management and orchestrator architectural framework (NFV-MANO Architectural Framework) is the collection of all functional blocks, and reference points and interfaces through which these functional blocks exchange information for the  purpose of managing and orchestrating NFVI and VNFs.

The building block for both the NFVI and NFV-MANO is the NFV platform.

The NFV platform implements carrier-grade features used to manage and monitor the platform components, recover from failures and provide effective security – all required for the public carrier network.
The NFV is characterized by modularity benefits. When the software that provides the VNFs is designed and deployed, vendors may structure it into software components and package those components into one and more images.

NFV is became a standard from the beginning, and it was immediately used for different application, such as virtualization of mobile base stations, platform as a service (PaaS), content delivery networks (CDN), fixed access and home environments.
Virtualization of network functions deployed on general purpose standardized hardware is expected to reduce capital and operational expenditures, and service and product introduction times.
Network equipment vendor are improving IT virtualization technology to incorporate carrier-grade attribute required to achieve high availability, scalability, performance, and effective network management capabilities. To minimize the total cost of ownership, carrier-grade features must be implemented as efficiently as possible.
Virtualization is also changing the way availability is specified, measured and achieved in NFV solution. As VNFs replace traditional function-dedicated equipment, there is a shift from equipment-base availability  to a service-base, end-to-end, layered approach.

To conclude, Network functions virtualization, or NFV, means that dedicated network devices are replaced by software running on common off-the-shelf (COTS) servers. The original approach to NFV advocates the placement of virtualized network functions (VFNs) not only in data center, but throughout the network, wherever they are most effective and least expensive.
One of our most durable and important partner, the Israeli RAD,  has become the industrial leader in virtualization at the customer edge, testing the Distributed NFV with the major carriers since mid-2013, offering a unique solution for D-NFV.

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