Light Reading

Where to Put Your VNFs

Roz Roseboro
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst

As has been documented widely, NFV was one of the main topics of discussion during the recent Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago. (See Let's Federate Our NFV Labs – Telefónica and this show site for full coverage of the BTE event.)

I found it particularly encouraging that BTE attendees were thinking hard about how network functions virtualization will be implemented in telco data centers.

One of the key debates centers around where virtual network functions (VNFs) should reside: Some are pushing a vision whereby some functions are distributed all the way to the customer premises; others believe they should reside in the telco cloud.

In August 2013, Tom Nolle of CIMI Corp. launched the CloudNFV initiative, and earlier this year Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL) assumed the leadership role in that initiative, which focus on the capabilities required to manage and orchestrate VNFs in a network architecture. I recently spoke with Bala Pitchaikani, Head of Dell NFV Strategy and Product Management, about the company's participation in the CloudNFV initiative and what Dell is hearing from telcos as they begin the process of transforming their data centers to support NFV. (See Dell Has Big NFV Plans.)

Dell is keen to stress that CloudNFV is not about doing old things in a new way. Rather, it is defining its architectural vision as "open," "innovative," and "extensible." The CloudNFV team is focusing on building a foundation that will ultimately provide differentiation for telcos, and is putting a lot of focus on building the open orchestration interfaces to telcos' existing OSS/BSS systems, recognizing that telcos must be able to leverage their existing systems.

CloudNFV was the first proof of concept (PoC) accepted by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV industry specifications group (ISG), and is the only PoC that focuses on a framework, whereas others are trying to implement one of the ISG's specified use cases. It's because of the focus on the framework that Dell is able to showcase the need for the type of strong foundation that telcos should implement.

Dell regards the NFV platform as the base that delivers standard northbound interfaces to support OSS/BSS integration as well as open orchestration of the various components and sub-systems of the platform. Dell regards the platform as a plug-and-play framework for NFVs that can help enable service agility as well as deliver opex and capex savings.

Dell strongly believes that the NFV ISG's use cases 1-4 -- which deal with the provision of NFV Infrastructure, VNF and Virtual Network Platform as a Service, and VNF Forwarding Graphs -- must be deployed, as they are the foundational pieces for the NFV architecture that is necessary to reap the benefits of new and differentiated services.

Need to know more about network functions virtualization and the cloud? Then check out the agenda for NFV and the Data Center, September 16 at the Santa Clara Marriott, Calif.

The Dell team is currently debating what uses cases telcos are really looking for, though it's understood that ensuring that telcos are able to provide a differentiated offering is of critical importance. Something being considered is the way in which VNFs can be used once deployed -- in effect asking, now that those functions are running on a different, virtual platform, how can things be done differently than in the past?

According to Dell, telcos have been requesting details related to the cloud-based delivery of VNFs in their request for information (RFI) documents. However, Dell believes that, ultimately, it is likely that different parts of a solution will reside in different places. For example, firewall enforcement might be performed at the customer premises, but all of the related policies (the complexity) would reside in a virtual point of presence (vPoP) or central office. One reason Dell says telcos will want to deliver VNFs via the cloud is that functionality would be dynamic, and able to respond to changing needs. In fact, if this doesn't happen, the NFV movement will have been a failure, in Dell's opinion.

The notion of distributed versus centralized VNFs is just one of the topics that will be discussed and debated at Light Reading's upcoming NFV and the Data Center event, where my colleague, Heavy Reading senior analyst Jim Hodges, and I will lead sessions that will delve into the practical considerations for telcos as they prepare to deploy NFV in their data centers.

— Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

(6)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/8/2014 | 6:39:39 PM
Re: Location matters
What is the biggest challenge with chaining appliances?
Kevin Mitchell
Kevin Mitchell,
User Rank: Lightning
8/6/2014 | 5:20:43 PM
Skip Building NFV - Cloud Source It
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should re-build the network with virtual functions. For commoditized services like voice, it's better to use a cloud source approach for the superior economics and flexibility, faster time to market and easier management/support model. You can get NFV hosted.

Read more: Hosted NFV Means Voice Network as a Service
sam masud
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/5/2014 | 2:37:10 PM
Re: Location matters
Though the issue of centralized v. distribued is certainly important, am I wrong in thinking that chaining itself becomes a whole lot easier with NFV than doing it the old-fashioned (appliance) way.
User Rank: Light Beer
8/5/2014 | 1:38:46 PM
Location matters
I believe that Dell is absolutely correct that VNF location is important for NFV and not all functions will be in the "cloud". It will make sense to push some functions to the edge and others will be in the data center. Which data center will depend on the networking use case under consideration as latency and performace considerations will have to be balanced against the possible savings from rental location/equipment consolidation. In such an environment distributed chaining is very important.
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/5/2014 | 2:26:14 AM
Re: It depends
As long as positioning of VNFs directly maps to CAPEX and ARPU, their proper positioning depends mostly on reliability of VNFs' operation. Which comes down to (a) responsiveness (e.g. delay sensitivity), (b) efficiency of operation (e.g. bandwidth-hungry functions), and (c) independence of network connectivity (i.e. network health).

Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
8/4/2014 | 2:59:16 PM
It depends
Whether the VNF should be in the cloud, datacenter, or customer premises dependson what you want to do with it. Some applications will be  suitable for one location, some for another. 
More Blogs from Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Huawei summit offers insights into how Asia-Pacific operators are evolving their networks for the emerging challenges of LTE, LTE-A and ultimately 5G.
Network security is becoming an ever bigger deal for communications service providers and the vendor community is reacting accordingly.
Even as MSOs roll out integrated CCAP systems, cable engineers are heating up the debate over next-gen approaches that would shift at least part of the CCAP gear and functions from the headend to the network.
With the help of NFV, cable operators can offer new managed services, roll out other services quicker, reduce their equipment load and cut operational costs.
OPNFV gets a lot of love, but it has a big job to do.
From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (10) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (2) comments

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Networking Shines in HP's Gloomy Final Earnings
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.