As the world becomes increasingly connected, businesses need network infrastructures that can keep pace with the demands of the digital age. That’s where Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) comes in. Cisco, one of the world’s leading technology companies, has been at the forefront of NFV research and development. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Cisco NFV, how it works, its components, and its advantages.
What is Cisco NFV?
NFV is a way to virtualize network functions that traditionally run on dedicated hardware. By using virtualized network functions (VNFs) on a shared physical infrastructure, network operators can reduce costs and increase flexibility. Cisco NFV takes this approach a step further by providing a platform that enables service providers to deploy VNFs in a scalable, automated, and secure manner.
How Does Cisco NFV Work?
At the core of the licensed Cisco NFV is the Cisco Network Services Orchestrator (NSO). This is a software platform that provides a single pane of glass for managing the entire network infrastructure, including physical and virtual resources. With NSO, network operators can automate the deployment and configuration of VNFs, as well as manage their life cycles.
The licensed Cisco also offers a suite of VNFs that can be deployed on the NFV platform. These include solutions for routing, security, and other network functions. In addition, Cisco has partnered with third-party vendors to offer a wide range of VNFs that can be integrated into the platform.
Components of Cisco NFV
There are several components that make up the Cisco NFV platform:
Network Services Orchestrator (NSO)
As mentioned earlier, NSO is the core platform for managing the network infrastructure. It provides a single pane of glass for managing both physical and virtual resources.
Cisco Elastic Services Controller (ESC)
ESC is responsible for managing the VNFs that run on the NFV platform. It provides features such as VNF onboarding, scaling, and service chaining.
Cisco Virtual Topology System (VTS)
VTS is a network orchestration platform that enables service providers to manage multi-vendor virtualized and physical networks.
Cisco Network Services Manager (NSM)
NSM provides end-to-end visibility into the network services and their performance.
Use Cases for Cisco NFV
There are several use cases for Cisco NFV, including:
Service provider networks: Service providers can use Cisco NFV to create flexible, scalable, and cost-effective networks that can support a wide range of services, including voice, video, and data.
Enterprise networks: Enterprises can use the licensed Cisco NFV to deploy and manage network services, such as firewalls and load balancers, on a virtualized infrastructure.
Cloud service providers: Cloud service providers can use Cisco NFV to offer a wide range of network services to their customers.
Advantages of Cisco NFV
The advantages of Cisco NFV include
Cost savings: By virtualizing network functions, service providers can reduce the need for dedicated hardware, which can result in significant cost savings.
Flexibility: The licensed Cisco NFV enables service providers to deploy and manage network services in a flexible manner. Services can be easily scaled up or down depending on demand.
Agility: With Cisco NFV, service providers can rapidly deploy new network services to meet changing customer needs.
Automation: The licensed Cisco NFV enables service providers to automate the deployment and configuration of network services, which can result in significant time savings.
Security: Cisco NFV provides a secure platform for deploying and managing network services.
Challenges with Implementing Cisco NFV
While the licensed Cisco NFV offers many benefits, there are also some challenges that need to be addressed when implementing it in a network. Some of these challenges include:
Integration with legacy systems: Many network operators have existing systems and infrastructure that need to be integrated with the new NFV environment. This can be a complex and time-consuming process, and requires careful planning and coordination.
Security concerns: The licensed NFV introduces new security risks and challenges, particularly around the virtualization of network functions. Network operators need to ensure that their NFV infrastructure is secure and that they have appropriate measures in place to protect against cyber threats.
Service assurance: NFV introduces new complexities around service assurance and quality of service. Network operators need to ensure that they can monitor and manage the performance of virtualized network functions and maintain high levels of service availability and reliability.
Cost: While NFV can offer cost savings in the long term by reducing the need for dedicated hardware, there are upfront costs associated with deploying and integrating an NFV environment. Network operators need to carefully weigh the costs and benefits of NFV and develop a clear business case for its adoption.
The licensed Cisco NFV offers a powerful and flexible approach to network infrastructure that can help organizations to be more agile, efficient, and innovative. By virtualizing network functions, NFV enables network operators to rapidly deploy new services and features, reduce costs, and improve service quality. However, implementing NFV also presents challenges around integration, security, service assurance, and cost. Network operators need to carefully plan and manage their NFV deployments to ensure that they can realize the full benefits of this transformative technology.