Virtualization is increasingly taking over the backend of enterprise IT infrastructure, and virtualization is no longer just for servers and storage. To meet this demand for more efficient and virtualized processes, network providers are incorporating Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) into their offerings. NFV technology is a cutting-edge solution that adds both cost- and time-saving benefits into network management.
Despite the many benefits of NFV, the shift away from hardware in the networking world represents a change in the industry, and one that comes with its own challenges. As an increasing number of service providers deploy NFV solutions, they are faced with the task of managing these solutions – a job that must be somewhat reinvented due to the shift away from hardware-based infrastructure. However, with the right approach, the providers can successfully deploy and manage an NFV solution that results in greater efficiency for staff and their customers.
Reviewing the Benefits
As some organizations struggle with the challenges of rolling out an NFV system, it is helpful to remember the benefits of NFV over traditional networking solutions. Service providers must keep these points in mind, as they are the primary drivers that will incentivize decision-makers to make the transition to virtualization:
- Cost savings –NFV saves both capital and operational expenses, and this means more dollars to both the bottom line and other core resources.
- Labor savings – A significant amount of effort is required to order, install, upgrade, and manage networking hardware. The software approach eliminates a great deal of this labor.
- Speed – NFV can provide a higher performing solution at a faster rate. As users demand more speed and power, IT can better fulfill those demands.
Ensure Successful Management
An important component of a fully successful NFV migration and deployment is an efficient management system by the service provider. Because stakeholders have to reinvent the wheel (to an extent) for NFV management vs. traditional hardware management, this task can be a barrier to a successful rollout and NFV offering. If service providers follow some basic guidelines, they can avoid major management pain points that can come with NFV:
- Use standard technologies – Providers should not create a new, custom management system for NFV solutions. They should instead take advantage of the industry-standard management tools on the market.
- Prepare for hypervisor investment and management – A large variety of hypervisors will probably be required for a successful NFV adoption, and providers need to have a solid attack plan for managing these hypervisors.
- Scalability must be at the forefront – Service providers should keep in mind that scalability applies to both the networking solution and the management aspect of NFV. This means that tools and processes should be familiar and easy to use.
NFV offers significant potential for both the enterprise and the service provider, but companies must be strategic in order to maximize the impact of NFV. Using the best and most standardized management methodologies available can help ensure that both the customer and the provider are making the most of this solution.