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NFV Definition

Commonly called 'NFV', Network Function Virtualization is a method of creating an entire virtual network of devices (which in most cases are virtual machines).

The concept was introduced quite recently by a few Network Service Providers at a convention called 'Software Defined Network and OpenFlow World Congress' recently. Load balancers, firewalls, WAN accelerators and intrusion detection devices. A load balancer, for instance, distributes workloads across a range of computers and other devices connected to a network in a round- robin approach. Firewalls ensure secure data transfer over a network by checking if the files being shared across computers adhere to a set of predefined network security rules.  

Introducing new services in today’s market is not an easy task due to the very rigid ownership nature of the existing hardware appliances. It is also very costly and there is a lack of skilled professionals to integrate and maintain these services effectively. To diminish these drawbacks, there are a few emerging technologies that have been introduced such as cloud computing, software defined networking and network function virtualization (NVF)

NVF takes the most commonly used physical networking devices such as switches, load balancers, routers and virtualizes them in a very similar manner as servers.NFV scales out less expensive devices and automatically introduces devices when needed. So the same project requires the same equipment and programming of the existing equipment. The relevant devices are introduced centrally via hypervisor management platform are configured with rules and policies and are used along with virtualization of servers. Hardware and software network resources combine and functions as a single software-based administrative entity that is a virtual one. Its goal is automatically provision devices and offloads network functions only and not the entire network. It is loaded into a software that can run industry-standard hardware and can be managed from anywhere inside the operator’s network. The concept of network functions virtualization was introduced  in November 2012 as part of the ETSI ISG to provide hardware-related CAPEX and OPEX reductions

It started in with mobile telecommunications networks with the promise of making networks more flexible and far easier to upgrade and change. Mobile operators and service providers are adopting NVF more quickly than expected and experts feel this new technology will eventually make its place in the enterprise. But will also have many challenges to overcome. It will need a new network management model and operators will face issues implementing this new technology and funding it.

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