What is Network Functions Virtualization?
Have you ever wondered why in the software business there are so many options to choose from, so much flexibility and highly competitive pricing, but in the world of networking we’re still stuck with expensive monolithic packages offered by only a few major players in the industry?
These major players are still in control of what specific features can be used, as they’re supplying their solutions in combination with their own hardware.
If you need a routing service then you need to buy a hardware router, for firewall you need a firewall hardware and so on. These are not the kinds of solutions that you can simply install on a server, or can you?
These questions have definitely plagued many, but there was never a solution that could actually compete in terms of performance with the leading networking hardware manufacturers.
With the advent of open networking and the possibility to separate hardware from software, new opportunities emerged which focus on optimizing the network services themselves, thus bringing a new term to the networking world – NFV (Network Functions Virtualization).
What NFV does is that it virtualizes many of the networking functions that we are already familiar with. Functions like BGP, NAT, VPN, and many others are introduced as features or software packages that are running on a regular server which also decreases the cost by more than 10x.
But wait, you may ask: Didn’t we have this possibility in the past? Didn’t we all know that a server was never able to perform at a high-performance level as a router with specialized ASICs? Yes, that’s partially true, however, with the introduction of DPDK and Intel DDIO technologies, this is no longer the case. A server with a 40Gbps network adapter can perform at full capacity as a functional router while keeping a full view routing table. The same capacity can be reached with NAT allowing an immense amount of internal traffic to go through the NFV node.
These features are only the start of what can be accomplished with NFV. Many leading companies are moving towards separating their software solutions from hardware.
In the very near future, there is going to be a possibility to install a networking function, from an App store like marketplace, with various features also offered by leading companies like Palo Alto Networks, F5, Cisco, and others.
Imagine you want to test the latest Deep Packet inspection solution by Palo Alto Networks, and all you do is install their software on your NFV node and voila – you have a fully functioning Firewall, performing at a high-performance capacity as a hardware-based solution, yet for a fraction of the cost.
The transition is slowly starting where networking companies are switching to this model of networking. In the near future by having a network composed of generic NFV nodes, replacing services from one vendor to another is going to be as easy as deleting and installing a new App.
We at XCloud Networks already have implementations of the latest technologies in the sphere of NFV nodes. Our vision is to create a networking functions marketplace, where any networking company is going to gain immense benefits by easily setting up various network function solutions by leading companies at a fraction of a price and savings on CapEx and OpEx.