Light Reading
When it comes to virtual network functions (VNFs), Dell is convinced that the heavy lifting will need to be done in the 'cloud'.

Where to Put Your VNFs

Roz Roseboro
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst
8/4/2014
50%
50%

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
Atlantis-dude
50%
50%
Atlantis-dude,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/8/2014 | 6:39:39 PM
Re: Location matters
What is the biggest challenge with chaining appliances?
Kevin Mitchell
50%
50%
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
50%
50%
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.
ajay_s
50%
50%
ajay_s,
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.
t.bogataj
50%
50%
t.bogataj,
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).

T.
Mitch Wagner
100%
0%
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
The news that Apple's new iPhone 6 will now support Voice over LTE kind of a big deal.
Network functions virtualization is the key catalyst underpinning telco data center transformation, believes Nokia Networks.
The growth of the smartphone market is creating a new testing ground for vendors that must find a way to keep ahead of the game.
As more and more applications move into the cloud, enterprises must ensure that those clouds are rigorously tested for performance.
As LTE-Advanced networks begin to reach commercial deployment, technology suppliers are scrambling to establish market leadership positions.
Flash Poll
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Microgenesis on Huawei's Switches

9|19|14   |   3:57   |   (0) comments


Microgenesis is a solutions and system integrator company in the Philippines whose areas of expertise include data centers, networking and security products. In this video, Executive Director Jeffrey Choa talks to us about his customers needs and they benefit from using Huawei switches.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Network Solutions Help the Philippines Jump Ahead

9|17|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


In the past, the Philippines has under-invested in technology. Now, the CEO of Softshell talks about how Huawei products help the Philippines jump ahead as the economy improves.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
VCS Observation for Safer Cities in the Netherlands

9|17|14   |   5:20   |   (0) comments


Holland's VCS Observation has been operating for 22 years. Its main goal is to get cities safer. CEO Wim van Deijzen tells us some of the challenges his company faces and how Huawei is helping to overcome these challenges.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Conversation With Serbia's Ministry of Interior

9|17|14   |   4:38   |   (0) comments


At HCC 2014, the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia talks to us about his projects and corporation with Huawei. Solutions like Safe City and E-Government and services like cloud computing are just some of the areas his department is interested in.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (1) comment


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Photos: Qualcomm Takes Over San Francisco
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/19/2014
NFV & The Data Center: Top 10 Takeaways
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/18/2014
New NFV Forum Focused on Interoperability
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/16/2014
Pics: LR's Women in Telecom Breakfast
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/16/2014
EMC Mulls Merger With HP or Dell – Reports
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 9/22/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed