While the expectation in the network industry was that Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) would primarily be for deployments in the cloud, in particular in data centers, the surprise is that NFV is proving to be most effective when used on virtual Customer Premise Equipment (vCPE). Sure, NFV and its cousin SDN implementations were originally focused on the cloud, but the reality is that vCPE and on-the-cloud-edge applications have, at the moment, the most to benefit from NFV adoption.
The first reason is a much faster ROI. Enterprises are always looking to find ways to save on network equipment costs. It is much easier to assess the savings generated by deploying vCPE, either with Common-Off-the-Shelf (COTS) equipment, or with hybrid Wide Area Network (WAN) Integrated Access Device (IAD) equipped with one or more x86 blades, for very specific and well-defined Virtual Network Functions (VNF): firewall, switch, router, and PBX.
The second reason is the benefit of having consolidated network management. Virtual CPE based on x86 offers the possibility of using a single network management application to configure, provision and monitor all VNFs, as opposed to a more cumbersome and expensive Network Management System (NMS) solution requiring the integration of various Element Management Systems (EMS) from different OEMs. And even compared with the edge VNFs configuration in the cloud data center, the vCPE network management is more cost effective.
The third reason, but not less important, is security. Security is a main concern today in network communications. By definition, access is a security characteristic, and it happens on the edge between the cloud and the customer premises. It then makes sense to implement the firewall, the Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), and the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) mitigation solutions as VNFs on customer premises.
Because of our experience in developing unique solutions for distributed NFV at the customer edge, we’re working with several OEMs and ODMs to develop NFV solutions such as a virtual PBX (vIPBX) running as VNF on vCPE. The surprise to the industry may be that NFV is proving to be most effective when used on vCPE, but we’ve already have been doing some trail blazing here.
Author: Stefan M.