Network operators constantly strive to speed up the deployment of services that will win and retain customers. They have already seen some benefits of virtualization by deploying key network functions, such as evolved packet core or IP multimedia subsystem components on VMs – but such deployments still require a relatively high level of manual intervention.
The next step is the deployment of NFV management and orchestration, which promises high-level automation and agility.
There are two key elements of this technology. The virtual network function manager coordinates and automates instantiation and lifecycle management of virtual network functions (VNFs), going as far as to allow automatic scaling and healing of the VNF. Meanwhile, the NFV
orchestrator coordinates the creation of the network service, using network service descriptors (NSDs) to define the service, its topology and the VNFs from which it is composed.Crucial to the ability to innovate is the concept of VNF forwarding graphs, which allow the creation of service topologies independent of physical topology.
The networking capabilities offered by VIMs and WIMs/SDN controllers enable this. When instructed over API, VIMs create VLAN or VXLAN connections among VNFs in individual data centers, whereas WIM/SDN controller completes the service topology by linking the distributed data center sites.
Together with these technology enablers comes the opportunity to modify operational processes driving modern telcos. Operators will benefit from adopting approaches such as DevOps
and continuous delivery to reduce service development cycles and make their services more robust.Moving forward in this way, operators will be able to maintain their operations while innovating at a speed that will bring new services to customers in days rather than months.