Defining SDN & NFV

I get the feeling we may need these references in 2014…

January 17, 2014

2 Min Read
Defining SDN & NFV

It's been nearly three years since software-defined networking (SDN) was first referenced at Light Reading and nearly 15 months since network functions virtualization (NFV) arrived on the scene. (See Big Switch Raises $13.75M and Tier 1 Carriers Tackle Telco SDN.)

The pace of development in both SDN and NFV has been astonishing when compared with the usual pace of the telecom sector so, not surprisingly, everyone wants a piece of the action and to be associated with the hottest technology trends in town.

That also means it can be easy to lose sight of what these developments are about, especially as the terms get added to just about every public statement made in the communications market. ("We have SDN-enabled our parking lot…" and "Our hot beverage facilities have been greatly enhanced by NFV" are just two examples I am waiting eagerly to read.)

So here are two quick definitions that, from now on, we will reference when writing about these critical topics. The SDN definition comes from the very able and experienced team at Heavy Reading (thanks folks) and the NFV definition from the first white paper published by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) Industry Specifications Group (ISG) that is at the heart of NFV developments.

SDN (software-defined networking)
SDN is an architectural concept that encompasses the programmability of multiple network layers -- including management, network services, control, forwarding and transport planes -- to optimize the use of network resources, promote interoperability across suppliers and network layers, increase network agility, unleash service innovation, accelerate service time-to-market, extract business intelligence and ultimately enable dynamic, service-driven virtual networks. – Heavy Reading

NFV (network functions virtualization)
NFV aims to... leverage standard IT virtualisation technology to consolidate many network equipment types onto industry standard high volume servers, switches and storage, which could be located in Datacentres, Network Nodes and in the end user premises... [NFV] is applicable to any data plane packet processing and control plane function in fixed and mobile network infrastructures. – NFV ISG (ETSI)

You can be sure we will be linking back to these definitions regularly in 2014 as the noise around SDN and NFV gets even louder.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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