NFV primer and NFV architecture
NFV, which is Network Function Virtualization, a concept that leverages the virtualization solution, e.g., ESX (from VMware), KVM (kernel-based virtual machine for Linux) to enable consolidation of many network services on to a standard high capacity server, storage, and network switches. It de-couples network function from the underlying hardware.
The following table list NFV main functional blocks with a brief explanation:
The following figure depicts NFV MANO architecture as proposed by ETSI standards organization.
ETSI – NFV management and orchestration architecture
If we were to have this framework from enterprise point of view, the OSS/BSS would play minimal or no role, because the end user is enterprise itself.
1. Various OEM NFV offerings
Let us glance through the NFV offerings that are available from different OEMs:
2. NFV use case and examples
There are several ways to categorize NFV use cases:
However, ETSI group has listed following significant use cases under respective logical groups:
3. Understanding NFV ROI
From the various studies and the surveys done by several research groups following critical findings have been highlighted in the year 2016 and 2017:
The above findings have been synthesized from various sources Reference 2 in Appendix-1
As per a study done by ACG Group :
“An ROI analysis demonstrates the rapid payback and high ROI of a phased move to the common platform from the appliance-based approach. The low-cost NFV nodes of the common platform and ability to produce sustained labor productivity and asset efficiency gains are shown to achieve payback in under a year and produce more than 350 percent ROI over five years.”
The considerable ROI return is mostly coming from:
In the year 2016, another study by ACG group on Business case on programmable NFV/SDN networks jointly with Juniper Networks came out with following findings based on NFV Use Cases:
a) Single-Site comparison achieved by virtualizing CPE Up-front CPE costs are reduced by 58% and Virtualization reduced by support costs by 72%
The study was focused on a service provider typically serving 75,000 small, 5000 medium, and 2,000 large businesses. The unit cost of virtual CPE comes out to be 72% lower than traditional CPE.
b) Real-Time Network Self-Optimization
Self-Optimization is not possible with traditional network architecture because of many manual interventions. The study shows 27% TCO savings compared to a manual engineered network which comes lower cost per port, transport, and edge power savings. The automation reduces network engineering labor
c) Elastic Traffic Engineering
Elastic traffic engineering enables dynamic traffic optimization by having a global view of all possible paths in the network. This results in efficient utilization of capacity. In the study done, this use case realized 35% reduction in link CAPEX savings when compared with the present mode of operations.
NFV deployment challenges
Deploying NFV can be very challenging, and the crucial ones have been highlighted in ETSI* drafts:
* ETSI - European Telecommunications Standards Institute, an institute that defines standards and drafts various technology. One of them is NFV
As explained in the above section the NFV transformation is not without challenges, but the economic benefits, one among the many benefits of NFV, outweighs the difficulty and hence it is of immense value to walk this path. It usually begins with the study of the current state of the infrastructure to identify the network components at a site. Then plan for a proof of concept and then full migration in a phase site-wise approach. Also, the integration of various solution components from multiple NFV OEMs, as per the reference architecture, will ensure a simplified, robust and open to further innovation via programming interfaces and a composite NFV solution.