Another interesting seminar was on NFV – Network Function Virtualization by Juniper Networks’ Jason Presement. In most large enterprises, services have been rolled out largely in silos. Each department rolled out their own independent project and applications. These applications were of course difficult to integrate. Automating the operations were difficult.

NFV – Network Function Virtualization and SDN – Software Defined Networks break down those silos. NFV allows the separation of applications from specific hardware boxes, such as breaking firewall functionality out of a custom box, and putting it in generic hardware. The idea is to allow hardware resources to be dynamically allocated as required. A Hypervisor acts as an operating system controlling the various hardware elements, and allows the shifting of hardware resources as required between applications.

It sounds really easy, doesn’t it? Part of the problems that telcos face is that they already have a huge installed base of application specific hardware. And there is no way that they can justify the capital expenditure to take everything out. The transformation to the NFV/SDN world will take time.

Some ideal applications to consider for the transformation are:

  • Firewalls
  • SSL Access
  • Network Probes
  • Application Delivery Controller
  • Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
  • Virus Scanning
  • Spam and Phishing Detection

Another great feature of NFV is service chaining. Service chaining allows any of the above applications to feed into the next one, as may be required. This could allow telecommunication carriers to provide each customer the specific services that they require, perhaps based on what they are prepared to pay for.