SDN and NFV Aren’t at Odds—They’re a Perfect Pairing
Some things just work together. Milk and cookies, salt and pepper, peanut butter and jelly and now—software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). SDN and NFV are often thought to be at odds with one another, but we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way.
Communications service providers (CSP) are feeling pressured to provide new virtualized services in order to respond to evolving market demands, speed the deployment of new services and boost revenues. The challenge? Providing virtualized services requires the support of a dynamic, flexible and agile network.
Legacy networks were not designed to be flexible or agile. Instead, they are vendor dependent systems with distributed control and lengthy product cycles that lack standard and open interfaces for interoperating with network elements from other vendors. In short, legacy networks simply can’t deliver virtualized services. CSPs are left with a tough choice: either utilize existing legacy networks as is, or determining the right time to build a complimentary overlay virtualization network. By unifying your SDN and NFV efforts, you don’t have to choose between the two options.
SDN is the Peanut Butter Half of the Perfect Pairing
SDN is all about the implementation of network transport functions, from the physical layer through the networking layer (L1 to L3). More specifically, SDN is the piece of the operation that separates the network control logic from the network hardware. This enables the various network elements to be configured, centrally managed and run using industry standard hardware components. SDN controllers extend the centralized network intelligence to various layers including the data plane and the optical transport layer.
Centralizing network intelligence enables both the packet and optical layers to be programmed for a more efficient wide area network (WAN). With multi-layered SDN, services can be created quickly in real time over multi-vendor networks using the best or most efficient technology available, rather than sticking to a predefined transport, routing or switching technology.
Like peanut butter, SDN sticks to whatever it touches, fully capable of building technology bridges and creating new open interfaces.
Adding the Jelly: Mixing in NFV
NFV has one goal—to transition proprietary network boxes to those with software-based solutions that run on industry-standard hardware.
The traditional network has an appliance for just about everything, from routers to firewalls, load balancers to distribution switches, web servers and beyond. NFV is designed to replace all of these appliances with software that can run on commercial, off-the-shelf servers (COTS). Here, NFV decouples network functions from complex network appliances to enable network services and other dedicated hardware devices to be hosted on virtual machines (VMs) with hypervisor control over the services in software. NFV reduces space requirements, power consumption, network maintenance, dependency on dedicated network appliances and, best of all, cost.
NFV can be either centralized or decentralized and, like jelly, comes in many flavors. For example, a virtualized network function (VNF) can run in one or more VMs on top of a network functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVi). The NFVi can include routers, switches, servers, cloud computing, CE 2.0 devices and more—and they can all be supported by VNFs.
SDN and NFV—As Delicious as Peanut Butter and Jelly
Both SDN and NFV technologies, like peanut butter and jelly, complement each other by making virtualization of network functions not only possible, but also attractive. In other words, new services can be created, deployed and managed much quicker and at a lower cost than in the past. Has there ever been a more a delicious networking proposition than that?
Subscribe to ECI’s blog to learn more about how the Elastic Network merges the benefits of SDN and NFV for the ultimate networking solution or ask your questions in the space below.