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Lessons Learned on the NFV Front Lines

It is the opinion of some telecommunications network equipment vendors that Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is a byproduct of 5G, and that the one shouldn’t arrive before the other. Reality says otherwise; many communication service providers are deriving value from NFV initiatives right now, primarily in the form of capex/opex savings and network agility. Yet many service providers, in our experience, still only tap into 30 to 40 percent of NFV’s true potential.

What prevents providers from realizing NFV’s full potential? There is no single reason. Rather, it’s a combination of missed opportunities and misunderstanding as to NFV’s architectural requirements. In the last eight years, Affirmed Networks has helped leading service providers successfully transition to NFV based architectures and realize exceptional returns. Along the way, we’ve learned some valuable lessons on how providers can avoid underwhelming NFV results and realize the technology’s full transformative benefits.

Lesson #1: Not all hardware is created equal The belief that you can run virtualized telecom applications on any vendor’s server is only a half-truth. There is one hardware dependency that always needs to be considered: the hardware must have a network interface card (NIC) that supports the data plane development kit (DPDK) in order to function properly. In our experience, we’ve found it’s often better to bundle the virtual network function (VNF) with hardware providers that support this NIC requirement rather than deploy the VNF in a hardware-agnostic environment. Read More...