With NFV, general-purpose servers replace your dedicated, hardware-based network appliances. The Management and Orchestration (MANO) system coordinates and administers the Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) that execute on these host servers. VNFs are created based on the operator’s and enterprise’s needs, and can be deployed when and where needed.

How NFV is being used and rolled out

For enterprises and operators, NFV promises to simplify the physical network architecture while improving the ability to scale and adapt to technological change.

With NFV, a telecom service provider can offer managed routing, encryption for data in motion, and virtualized security services with greater cost-effectiveness compared to traditional networking. And as functionality evolves or standards change, updates are delivered through software without the need to touch hardware. Such functionality is especially useful with encryption and virtualized security.

NFV promises to improve the scalability and agility of your operations while also reducing networking costs.

How NFV changes the game

NFV decouples network functions from dedicated hardware devices and moves them to general-purpose servers, which allows multiple functions to be consolidated onto a single physical server with well-defined open interfaces to MANO systems. This approach reduces your costs and minimizes the need to order truck rolls or tediously correlate hands-on maintenance between disparate vendor systems because the virtual appliances replace dedicated, hardware-based network appliances.

Network admins can monitor the network and handle orchestration and administration functions through a ‘single-pane-of-glass’ user interface that coordinates the virtual appliances running on a network. Like virtual machines, you can also select and deploy additional virtual functions based on the needs of the network.

If you need to add a new network function, you can simply spin up a new virtual machine to perform that function. And just as easily, the network function can be spun down when it is no longer needed.

For example, instead of deploying a new hardware appliance across the network to enable managed network services like encryption, you can deploy encryption software on any standardized server or switch already in the network, provided the underlying hardware has the capacity to support the additional workload.

How Ciena helps

Ciena can help facilitate a network operator’s NFV migration, delivering integrated end-to-end management, virtualization, and service-oriented network operations. Ciena is committed to helping network operators realize the vision of a single, open, highly available, agile network that offers end-to-end visibility across physical and virtual components.

Ciena has demonstrated SDN and NFV advantages through successful engagements with regional, national, and global customers. This is why industry leaders such as CenturyLink, Windstream, Orange, and Colt are turning to Blue Planet to help orchestrate and control mission-critical services and applications.

With its commitment to open industry standards, Ciena’s Blue Planet breaks down vendor silos once and for all, enabling software-defined multi-vendor networks. Blue Planet can help network operators meld SDN, NFV, cloud, and legacy domains within a single unified service orchestration environment that reduces vendor lock-in and simplifies end-to-end service creation, automation, and orchestration. Ciena’s customers see the innovation inside Blue Planet as the dawn of something big.