You may have read Array’s recent press release on joining the OPNFV Project, an open source reference platform for Network Functions Virtualization, as a founding member. While SDN (Software-Defined Networking) has gotten a lot of buzz in the media and other circles, NVF may actually have a much greater impact for corporate and service provider networks. A few points to consider:
- A recent poll showed that among CIOs and CTOs, NFV was the top trend impacting their roles (80%), and 36% chose NFV as the single most important trend affecting their roles. (This is far above mobility or any other single trend.) In addition, 85% predicted that NFV would become a major player in the communications service provider market within 3 years.
- NFV is complementary to SDN. While SDN is focused on creating network abstractions to enable faster innovation, NFV holds the promise of reducing CAPEX, OPEX, space and power consumption – all worthy goals that will contribute to improved network performance and economics. In addition, both movements have the potential to foster open innovation, which can open markets to new third-party applications and tools.
- NFV (and SDN) can address most, if not all, of the inefficiencies and barriers to innovation that exist in current network infrastructures. Much as the public switched telephone network moved from all-analog, to digital for backhaul only, to nearly all digital transmission, corporate and service provider networks can move from the current status quo to a more efficient and manageable model. Fragmented, non-commodity hardware and physically installing appliances at each site? Gone. The hardware development barrier for new vendors? Also gone, and creating a massive opportunity for new breakthroughs.
- Application delivery networking (ADN), Array’s key strength, can provide great benefits for SDN. SDN is primarily focused on network control at the switch and controller level. With its granular visibility into applications, ADN can collect application-level intelligence and thus guide SDN-based switch packets for improved performance and security.
- OPNFV has brought together some of the best and brightest in the networking industry, with the goal of creating an open platform to support NFV. I don’t think I need to belabor the point, but open, community-led and industry-supported initiatives have brought about great innovations that helped power the tech industry now and into the future.
There’s a lot more on the horizon for NFV, and in particular, the OPNFV Project. Keep them on your radar, and stay tuned for more to come.