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Networks are the bedrock of our connected world. Whether wireless, fixed, or converged, the networks offered by telecommunications operators and large enterprises have underpinned the explosive growth of web, smartphone, and IT services of the past two decades.

These networks need to evolve still further, however, if they are to keep pace with the demands of ever-changing business models and technology innovation. Today’s networks rely on masses of single purpose proprietary network elements from load balancers, firewalls and Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), to telecom specific capabilities such as Evolved Packet Core (EPC), IP Multi-media Subsystem (IMS), and Broadband Network Gateways (BNG).

Because these systems are vertically integrated, proprietary, and deployed in hardware, they are difficult to upgrade and manage. In fact, with highly dynamic services such as 5G and edge computing around the corner, it is hard to imagine anything but a software driven approach moving forward. The complex back-office systems that provide service-level capabilities are custom-built, brittle, and complex. These factors make it difficult for service providers to roll out new services in a timely fashion, with direct negative impact to the bottom line.

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is a new vision of the network that takes advantage of advances in dynamic cloud architecture, Software Defined Networking (SDN), and modern software provisioning techniques. By moving intelligence and workloads into software, end users are able to able to scale out and in dynamically to meet changing traffic and service usage levels.  Service providers are also able to enjoy faster time to market for new services and innovate more rapidly with lower CapEx investment. DevOps practices, widely used in the data center, applied to virtualized software-based network services enable operators to leverage industry innovation with greater speed and lower risk.

NFV brings IT and communications technologies together so that end users can meet the challenges of rapid bandwidth growth and service innovation with agility, flexibility, and cost effectiveness.

The OPNFV Approach to NFV