26 February 2014
| Guy Matthews
With service providers facing increased competition from OTT players, they need to be looking at new market opportunities.
However, as they launch new
services, they must grapple with the growing quantities and
complexity of the hardware in their networks. This creates
challenges. Equipment certification takes time and the
equipment creates cost pressures and the need for more space
and power, at a time when both are becoming more
Some service providers are looking instead at network functions virtualisation (NFV) as
the answer to their problems in the provisioning of new
services. NFV differs from regular network virtualisation by
virtualising not so much the functionality of the network, but
the services that run over it.
Network functions are delivered as software that can be
deployed at locations in the network as required, without the
need to install equipment each time. It is applicable to any
network function, in both mobile and fixed networks, and is
complementary to software defined networking (SDN) but not
dependant on it. Virtual appliances might be configured using
SDN capabilities and they might be connected via overlay
network tunnels in clusters, based on an application or based
on the needs of an organisation.