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Will network functions virtualization be used in the enterprise?

Jason Edelman explains whether or not network functions virtualization will ever transition into the enterprise, or if it is a service/provider play.

Will network functions virtualization be used in enterprises, or is it just an operator/service provider play?

Network functions virtualization (NFV) will no doubt be used in the enterprise, although it’s gaining traction in the service provider space. NFV offers a wide range of benefits, even for the enterprises that include reduced CapEx, linear scale/pricing, smaller fault domains. In addition, it makes applications -- along with their associated policies -- more portable.  

A side effect of all of this is an inherently better business continuity plan.  However, NFV for the enterprise will take time. This will require IT teams to become more comfortable embracing software-centric L4-7 services, as well as changes in operational models. An understanding of how to optimize performance with DPDKs, and potentially even looking at programmable hardware, will be needed as well.

Another challenge is the time and process it takes to re-architect monolithic services appliances that were predominantly deployed for north-south traffic. This could be done in a way where there may be many more appliances, but each supporting smaller workloads and be optimized for east/west traffic.

This was last published in July 2014

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2 comments. First, I see NFV in the Enterprise taking off, specially around micro segmentation of east west trafic. One of the key use cases for NSX. Reducing workloads and complexity of the fysical north west oriented firewall. Second comment is on the operator part. If that refers to telco's. They have very specific network functions (e.g. Roaming over 4G) that you will not find elsewhere in the enterprise.