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Q&A with HPE OpenNFV Expert




Q&A with HPE OpenNFV Expert

As the NFV story progresses, we continue to work closely with our customers to make sure the journey to programmable infrastructure is clear. One of the ways we’re helping bring everyone up to speed is with our NFV for Dummies series. This five-part series focuses on different areas of NFV adoption, deployment, and acceleration, bringing NFV experts and novices together to gain a deeper understanding of the evolving technology. Our first webinar tackled the definition of Network Functions Virtualization and why CSPs need it.

If you missed our first webinar, replay the session for free here, or read the Q&A section from our webinar below. Register for our upcoming webinars here.

As you may imagine, the webinar was a lively discussion with lots of questions from the audience.  All good information, we wanted to make sure we shared. So…what were the burning questions the ecosystem had, and how did our expert Melody Yuhn respond? Here’s a peek:


What is the difference between NFV and VNF?

NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) is an overarching framework defined by ETSI (and contributed to by other standards groups) that purports to take specific network functions (e.g. FW, EPC, MME, CPE, etc.) and remove the proprietary hardware and software constraints by virtualizing the function and running it an infrastructure comprised of commercial off the shelf hardware.

VNF (Virtualized Network Function) is an element within the NFV architecture that is a software component that delivers the functionality of a specific network function (e.g. FW, EPC, MME, CPE, etc.).

If I wanted to incrementally rollout NFV (i.e., through virtual routers), how well would they interact with my hardware routers from different vendors? 

Virtual Routers are available today through HPE (VSR), Brocade, and others. They are designed to interoperate with physical routers from other vendors, using standard routing protocols. However as the 14th century English proverb wisely stated “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”, and so interoperability testing is crucial for such an undertaking (as is the case for any network service deployment).

Can you draw the link between SDN and NFV?

Both NFV and SDN are virtualization technologies that promise to improve and revolutionize networking by leveraging virtualization.  SDN is a technology focused on changing a datacenter’s routed network architecture by separating the control and data planes. NFV is a framework that purports to take specific network functions (e.g. FW, EPC, MME, CPE, etc.) and remove the proprietary hardware and software constraints by virtualizing the function and running it in an infrastructure comprised of commercial off the shelf hardware. SDN can complement an NFV deployment by routing traffic to specific VNFs for example, but is not necessary for NFV.  See my blog post on this topic for further information.

Which areas of the industry will move to NFV first in your opinion?

I’m seeing great interest in vCPE as well as VoLTE (vEPC and vIMS). I say this based on readings, conversations at trade events, and customer interest through PoCs and RFx inquiries.

Though NFV is positioned for telcos mainly, is there any restriction adopting this into enterprise campus networks?

NFV was envisioned by the telcos to meet their goals of cost reduction, improved innovation, and speed to value of new services. The telcos and their key vendors have been driving the standardization efforts. That said, the frameworks and architectures are all based on the principal of open source standards, and openness in the choice of vendors, hardware and software. The framework could be used by enterprises, but at this time it seems to be embraced firstly by the telcos.

What about “Fog Networking?” [Slide 18]

The key concepts behind Fog Networking – i.e. using edge distributed compute/storage resources, is already intrinsically included in the NFV architecture.  It is visible in many use cases like vCPE for enterprise applications.   The co-ordination and control of the distribution to the edge resources is however governed by centralized policies and executed through a network of orchestrators and controllers.

When will Helion Carrier Grade 2.0 be released?

Helion OpenStack Carrier Grade v2.0 is generally available now. Read more here.

Regarding virtualized FW, I will be able to deploy that function, but still have to configure its rules. How will SDN help me with that since it will only steer the traffic and not populate it with rules?

I don’t think SDN will help you here, as you state SDN will steer traffic. You’ll need to manage the FW rules independently of traffic engineering. NFV on the other hand would have a VNF manager for the FW to oversee lifecycle management, as well as an orchestration engine for services. The management and orchestration (MANO) layer of NFV exposes management of the FW.

Is OpenFlow protocol used in NFV? At which layer?

OpenFlow is an important protocol for SDN, and SDN is complementary but not required for NFV. The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) has a brief on OpenFlow enabled SDN and NFV that provides good background on this topic. Suffice it to say that SDN can complement NFV deployments at the infrastructure layer.

Where does someone start to get involved with the movement as an IT professional? Are there are certifications for SDN/NFV?

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise offers several SDN certifications and training through the ExpertOne certification program. ONF plans to offer some certifications for SDN, but at the time of this writing the details have not been announced.  Brocade and Cisco also have programs that are product specific. See each vendor’s website for details.

Learn more at our HPE OpenNFV website, and follow us on Twitter at @HPE_NFV and @HPE_CSP.


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