NFV: It’s Not Magic

6 Tips to Empower Your NFV Deployments —

Network functions virtualization (NFV) deployments continue to grow in the telco sector. Top communication service providers (CSP) from all over the world are moving to virtualize 60% to 80% of their networking functions in the next 3 to 5 years, including AT&T, China Telecom, and a subsidiary of Vodafone, according to research from Light Reading.

Much like everything else, preparation is the key to making the magic happen.

But, what does this “magical” concept of NFV really mean? NFV can be simply defined as the “decoupling of network functions from underlying physical infrastructure” and “moving of traditional network functions deployed in single purpose-built hardware to virtual instances running on general-purpose hardware or cloud infrastructure.” NFV does this by leveraging IT virtualization technology so that network functions like firewalls, routers, and other networking services, can run as software on commercial, off-the-shelf servers.

The industry has long touted the benefits of NFV, including:
• Lower costs: reduced CapEx to eliminate wasteful over-provisioning and reduced OpEx because of virtualization.
• Increases flexibility: management automation and reusable infrastructure.
• Empowers innovation.
• Scales more easily.
• Decreases time-to-market.

Still, as magical as it may seem, there are tough challenges related to NFV deployments. Performance and high availability are critical factors in a successful NFV implementation. In order for NFV to be a valuable investment, it must be designed to be cost-effective, and to provide virtual network performance and reliability that compares to physical network function implementations. While NFV implementations reduce costs through commonly available hardware, many fail to provide the required high performance for data planes due to the added overhead of the virtual infrastructure.

Much like everything else, preparation is the key to making the magic happen. Below are 6 “must haves” for a highly effective telco NFV deployment:

1. Predictable high performance, including linearly scalable performance, low latency, and hardware agnostic with acceleration.

2. Efficient multi-site deployments for better scale, redundancy, and disaster recovery.

3. Multi-tenancy to efficiently share resources, fully leveraging a common infrastructure between network functions without compromising the security.

4. A software-defined infrastructure integrated with software-defined networking as a foundation for a resilient datapath.

5. Automation strategy to take maximum advantage of scaling capabilities while maintaining operational efficiency and ensure business continuity.

6. Distributed security that involves moving security from the edge to the data center. Additional features should include distributed firewalls and connection tracking.

From infrastructure orchestration to the application itself, virtualizing CSP workloads calls for a thorough and thoughtful NFV deployment strategy that supports automation, service assurance, performance, manageability, and operability.

For more information about research from Light Reading, see “Demystifying NFV”, by Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes, James Crawshaw, Senior Analyst – OSS/BSS Transformation, Heavy Reading, 1/20/2017, at

For an NFV definition, visit

About Annie Potvin

Annie Potvin leads Red Hat's Product Marketing for Vertical Industry Solutions. Prior to this role, Annie was responsible for global marketing at eNovance, a provider of open source Cloud computing services. Her specialties include marketing emerging technologies such as open source, OpenStack, NFV, and DevOps. She has more than 25 years of professional experience in Marketing and Product Marketing. Annie has also worked at Insight Enterprise, a global technology company that focuses on information technology, where she led Product and Technical Marketing. For more information, please visit and