Carrier Networking Network Function Virtualizations (NFV)
4 minute read

Service Providers Shouldn’t Get Caught Up in the ‘Science Project’ Part of Virtualization

Before diving into the complexity of disaggregating hardware from software, organizations should make sure virtualization is the right path forward by closely considering the outcomes and services end customers want.

The term Network Function Virtualization (NFV) has been tossed around for the better part of the last decade. And while the value proposition of NFV is compelling — simplified network architecture that affords agility and rapid service delivery — adoption has been slower than once anticipated.

From our vantage, this is the result of the way many organizations have gone about pursuing NFV.

Joe Wojtal, Chief Technology Officer of WWT’s Global Service Provider organization, said it’s important to think about what will be delivered to end users before diving deep into the technology.

“A lot of times when we get into discussions around NFV, customers get too wrapped up around disaggregating the hardware and software, and the complexity that causes,” he said. "They forget that whatever you put back together has to be a service someone is willing to pay for. It’s easy to get lost in the science project of making this cool technology work, but the focus needs to be put on building something someone will pay for. So we like to ask customers to think of network design and the service being produced before we even talk about the virtualization details.”

Wojtal and Intel’s NFV Solution Provider Manager, Paul Mundinger, recently sat down to discuss the power of NFV on WWT’s TEC17 podcast. 

Do this, not that

Instead of approaching NFV from the bottom up by focusing on the technicalities of disaggregation, as many service providers do, the smart play is to tackle NFV from the top down. That means focusing on desired outcomes, which can then be implemented as virtual machines, containers or in serverless cloud computing, depending on network needs.

Any organization looking to utilize NFV should first ask themselves two foundational questions:

  1. What service am I trying to deliver to my customers?
  2. Am I building something customers will pay for, or am I simply investing in technology for technology’s sake?
Drawing of a WWT rack
Read more: 5 Essential Elements for an Effective NFV Deployment

The answers to these questions will help inform the next step of your NFV journey: determining if a disaggregated solution is right for your specific business case.

Decoupling hardware from software and piecing solutions together using various vendors involves building something new and, oftentimes, unknown. In some cases, a virtualized solution may not even work better than a proprietary solution from an OEM.

With that caveat out of the way, software-defined virtual networks simplify architectures and can help transform service providers’ business models as we head into a new generation of connectivity. 

Effectively deploying virtual network functions on top of NFV infrastructure (NFVI) can be a game changer by helping service providers keep up with the pace of change in today’s competitive industrial landscape.

It takes a village

An entire technology ecosystem exists to help solve the challenges organizations face when considering software-defined virtual networks. This complex environment is what makes WWT's value proposition to service providers, and any organization operating with a large network footprint, so compelling.

We have decades of network architecture experience — from endpoint or customer premise equipment (CPE) to the service provider core network — that enables us to help customers create effective solutions faster than ever before.

Through our state-of-the-art Advanced Technology Center (ATC), we're able to mimic the largest network environments in which to design, test and validate multi-OEM solutions. And through our global integration facilities, we’re able to build these solutions and deploy them at scale anywhere in the world. 

Real world scenario: Rapid validation

Consider WWT’s collaboration with Red Hat to validate and certify the functionality and interoperability of various VNF solutions installed on Red Hat’s OpenStack Platform.

WWT streamlined the solution validation process by accelerating service providers' ability to bring new services to market by incorporating into the ATC the latest industry tools for qualifying, testing and running a complete NFV solution. Red Hat VNF certification through WWT's ATC allows service providers to deploy with more confidence, knowing their chosen solution is validated and supported by Red Hat along with the specific partner.

Behind the agility of NFV is complex technology requiring interoperability expertise in infrastructure, orchestration, applications, virtualization and automation. WWT acts as a trusted partner to make sense of this fragmented, complex market to deploy solutions that deliver transformative services and outcomes to end customers.

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