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Network Functions Virtualization for Dummies



Network functions virtualization (NFV) is a new approach that is changing the way Communications Service Providers design and operate their networks.  With the flexibility and agility enabled by NFV, CSPs will have the ability to deliver beyond connectivity by becoming Digital Service Providers.  Like most new and complex technologies, we understand it can be a daunting task to understand the “what”, “where”, “how” and “when” leveraging these new approaches. 

To ease this education, and to help make NFV implementations easier, we authored an NFV for Dummies book. This book covers NFV basics – understanding the “what” of NFV, best practices for NFV use cases, and lessons from proof-of-concepts and deployments. Specifically, readers will learn how to:

  • Recognize NFV use cases, challenges, and goals
  • Virtualize physical network devices and functions
  • Plan a successful NFV deployment.

Beyond the NFV for Dummies book, HPE has created an NFV for Dummies webinar series in which NFV experts from HPE lead targeted deep dives into both NFV technology and strategy segments. The webinar series is broken up in to 5 chapters:


By leveraging the NFV for Dummies book and webinar series, readers and viewers can painlessly learn everything they need to know about NFV. To learn even more, go to


Sneak peek into Chapter 1 of NFV for Dummies published by Wiley Publishing:

We are living in an increasingly hyperconnected world — and it’s not just humans that are connected anymore — the Internet of Things (IoT) is creating new connectivity requirements and scenarios for our world! The CSPs who are responsible for providing this connectivity are facing an exponential rise in traffic and the number of subscribers on their networks. Today, CSPs are facing challenges on multiple fronts:

✓ Exploding demand: Analysis Mason forecasts that global mobile data traffic will reach 60,427 petabytes (PB) in 2016, an increase of 54 percent from 2015. The rapid growth is set to continue through 2020, when mobile data levels are estimated to reach 228,491 PB.

✓ Shifting landscape: Increasing relevance of applications over pure connectivity and a new breed of competitors with new business models — for example, from over‐ the‐top (OTT) players, such as Hulu and Netflix, who are agile, flexible, and able to roll out revenue‐generating services much faster. Changing and ever‐increasing consumer expectations for personalized services and experiences also up the ante for CSPs.

✓ Inability to offer new services to users rapidly and dynamically: Current CSP networks are built on monolithic, largely proprietary infrastructures. Manual management and workflow processes prevent CSPs from quickly adapting and delivering the innovative new services and applications that consumers demand.

✓ Growing capital expenditures (CAPEX) and operating expenses (OPEX) and stagnant or declining revenues: With applications and OTT services capturing wallet share, CSPs are experiencing flat or declining revenues from existing residential consumers. However, traffic growth is continuing unabated and CSPs are forced to invest CAPEX and OPEX to keep up with rising demand.

Traditionally, CSPs have not been able to optimize their resource usage because they have to engineer their networks for peak traffic rates. Their new competitors have been using a more efficient way to manage delivery of multiple networked applications and maximize resource utilization by deploying shared, virtual infrastructure — technology that has been prevalent in enterprise IT organizations for more than a decade now.

Network functions virtualization (NFV) applies virtualization technologies to the traditional network functions and the associated value‐added applications or service functions that CSPs use in their network infrastructure, enabling them to reduce cost and improve time‐to‐market. NFV is transforming the way that CSPs architect and design parts of their networks. Using standard IT virtualization technologies, NFV allows a CSP to consolidate the plethora of applications and specialized network equipment they use in their network onto industry‐standard high‐volume servers, switches, and storage.  

NFV ensures that CSPs will automatically benefit from any major advances and disruptive innovations that appear in IT. NFV enables significant benefits through deployment of virtualized network functions and applications on a shared infrastructure:

✓ Creating new revenue opportunities: New applications that target specific market needs or specific market segments can be quickly tested and deployed at the scale required. With NFV, the CSP network can become a platform on which an ecosystem of independent software vendors can quickly bring new applications and innovations to market.

✓ Increasing flexibility and agility with cloud-style fulfillment models: Applications and services can be readily updated and deployed without unnecessary delays, speeding time‐to‐market.

✓ Simplifying the planning and scaling of the network: New hardware can be quickly added, allowing CSPs to add or delete application or service capacity on demand to meet the elastic needs of the traffic, without long network equipment procurement cycles.

✓ Reducing CAPEX and OPEX: Improved utilization of equipment and wider adoption of industry standard servers for core telecom applications in a shared compute/storage infrastructure enable significant CAPEX savings. CSPs can run their networks more efficiently, with a high level of automation, and reuse a shared pool of compute/storage resources for various functions. Additionally, having a uniform infrastructure produces operational savings by reducing management complexity and its associated cost. This frees up valuable resources to innovate and create truly differentiated service offerings for consumers and businesses.

The Origins of NFV

Capitalizing on the technology advances that emerged from the software‐defined networking (SDN) movement, and the move to virtualization and the cloud in data centers, the NFV concept emerged as a call to action by a global group of telecom industry operators in 2012. The Industry Specification Group on NFV (NFV ISG) forum was formed under the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to address this issue. The group published the first formal definition of NFV — the “NFV Architectural Framework” — in 2013. The NFV industry movement began with the goal of saving capital equipment costs by transferring network functions from expensive proprietary platforms to commodity servers. Over time, network operators have become more interested in other benefits, starting with improved operations efficiency and moving to building new service revenues through agile service creation.

See our complete NFV for Dummies book & follow us on Twitter at @HPE_NFV & @HPE_CSP

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