What is NFV?

What is NFV?

NFV (Network Function Virtualisation) in its basic form, simply means taking a network function, such as firewalling, load balancing or routing, and running it as a virtual machine. This effectively means a piece of software is now fulfilling the function of what would previously have been a physical piece of equipment.

As well as the main functions of firewalls, load balancing and routing, we may also look to network function virtualisation for intrusion prevention, web app firewalls or DDoS protection.

As with all virtualised systems, NFV makes these functions mobile. They can be moved around, spun up and spun down with the speed and ease of any other virtual machine and therein lies its value. Without the need for hardware, reconfigurations and cabling we have the flexibility to provision new services with just a few clicks of a mouse.

Add to this the capabilities of SDN and orchestration and we are able to automatically reroute traffic through this new service and on to its final destination.

So what are the benefits of NFV?

Flexibility and agility

The single largest benefit of NFV lies in its flexibility and agility. New services can be provisioned or removed in a matter of minutes and licences can be returned to a central pool and redistributed elsewhere as required. Without a significant purchasing cycle, businesses can respond with speed and agility, delivering new services to market within highly competitive timeframes. Businesses can also scale with ease as they continue to grow.

Operational ease

Because the network functions are now virtualised, physically this reduces the amount of hardware a business needs to house. As well as simplifying the logistical management of storage and removal of redundant kit, NFV makes upgrading equipment easier and far less costly. Rather than investing in new equipment in order to see the benefit of an upgrade, licensing models mean upgrades can be acquired sooner and provisioned with ease without losing any previous investment.

Revenue-based licencing model

Network function virtualisation reduces upfront investment in costly equipment, instead shifting expenditure to a revenue-based licencing model. Licences are often acquired for a year at a time but this varies with provider. Sometimes licences can be acquired for just a month at a time meaning they can be directly offset against an organisation’s own customer billing model.

Low-risk innovation

Now that services can be provisioned quickly, with no large upfront investment, the cost of innovation is greatly reduced. IT teams can move from idea to testing in just a few days, starting small and growing as required, without the need for long planning cycles. Successful innovations can be rapidly scaled up, while unsuccessful ideas can be scaled down and resources redeployed with very little cost to the business.

What is NFV (network function virtualisation)?

Juniper NFV solutions

Juniper's NFV solution combines SDN and NFV to deliver flexibility and agility in the network.

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Software-Defined Data Centre

NFV forms part of our Software-Defined Data Centre reference architecture. Find out more about how NFV can be deployed in the data centre.

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Blog - What does NFV mean for service providers?

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NFV is a much-discussed topic, but what does it really mean for service providers in terms of business benefits and operations?