NFV offers greater agility and reduced costs – but deployment can be tricky

Network Function Virtualization, or NFV, is a framework for deploying services in a virtualized software world. Services that would otherwise be deployed on dedicated hardware appliances are now deployed as software on general purpose servers. The shift in paradigm minimizes the number of different device types, operational motions and time needed to launch and maintain services.

The benefits of NFV are evident: increased service agility to explore new business models and achieve faster time to revenue, reduced operating costs through automation, reduced capital expenses and reuse of general-purpose servers and better customer self-service interaction that boosts satisfaction and reduces back-end support costs. But the path to enjoying those benefits is by no means straight or easy.

Stepping up to the NFV challenge

Because NFV is a full stack solution, deployment can be very complex, involving skill sets that include compute/storage/networking infrastructure, DevOps, application management, orchestration and automation. As a result, this complexity can limit an organization’s ability to successfully bring new revenue-generating solutions to market.

Since NFV frameworks are designed from the ground up to be multi-vendor friendly, this introduces additional complexity: how is the solution stack tested and validated? Who will support it? How does one integrate all of the pieces together to create a winning service? Another challenge when deploying an NFV solution is that a single mistake at any point in a service’s creation can have a ripple effect compromising every subsequent step down the line. Success depends on doing everything right.

Five capabilities to ensure a successful NFV deployment

To avoid potential downfalls and help ensure a ripple-free process, it’s essential that your technology team possess the skills and resources to provide:

  • Complete integration – Successful integration of every element in NFV is paramount, and that requires a full-stack solution. It’s no longer merely a question of what your NFV components can do, but “can it interoperate in a heterogeneous solution stack?” Your NFV provider should possess the skill to avoid silos, integrate devices from multiple hardware vendors, and have relationships with the right software partners in orchestration, Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), physical/virtual infrastructure, automation, and monitoring/service assurance.
  • Comprehensive experience – Having an in-depth understanding of all elements of an NFV solution is critical, including in-depth technical knowledge and relevant certifications, long-term vendor relationships that provide insight into how all elements work together, and industry recognition for leadership as a full-stack NFV integrator.
  • Solution customization – One NFV solution does not fit all environments. Yours must reflect your overall goals, realizing your desired business outcomes and then creating and validating the additional tools to bring the solution to life. For example, WWT’s Asynchrony Labs agile software development team can create unique NFV experiences by customizing user portals, web applications, mobile applications, APIs and backend integration.
  • Rapid validation – It’s essential to have access to a facility that can reduce the time, cost and risk associated with validating NFV solutions. For example, WWT has streamlined the validation process with its own NFV-enabled Advanced Technology Center (ATC), which validates, integrates and certifies NFV solutions from multiple vendors, reducing risk to customers and shortening time to implementation.
  • Supply chain and installation management – To reduce the cost and complexity of IT deployments, WWT’s global Integration Centers can stage an entire data center technology infrastructure, rack and stage multivendor components into read-to-deploy systems, and configure thousands of IT, network, collaboration, security, cloud and end-user devices. And, WWT can then ship worldwide and provide installation services.

Behind the agility of NFV is complex technology requiring interoperability expertise in infrastructure, orchestration, applications, virtualization, and automation. It also requires skills to bring everything together quickly and correctly, leveraging these capabilities.

Contact me via email, or request a WWT workshop for more information about NFV and our approach to data center automation.

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