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By Omar Hassen, Associate Vice President - Connectivity Business
Traditional telecom data centers relied on function-specific hardware networks to facilitate data flow. But with today’s move towards virtualization, these systems become cumbersome to manage. More data centers are migrating to NFV (network functions virtualization) and SDN (software-defined networking) technologies because of the numerous benefits. Network Function Virtualization is faster, more affordable, and easier to modify, update, and change. This transition to the cloud is considered an evolutionary step for the data industry, and it will add more flexibility to network setups than ever before.
Understanding the Technologies that Support Virtualization
NFV and SDN are two complementary approaches that facilitate the virtualization of data centers. SDN separates the flow of data from the control center through the use of software and allows for the control center to run on a server as opposed to through the network, which in turn allows for greater automation. This separation—in conjunction with OpenFlow, the open source protocol that has been widely adopted as the standard for these networks—makes SDN technology a viable and innovation-friendly solution for all data centers.
NFV, on the other hand, takes many of the primary network functions out of the hardware and puts it into easily manipulated software for fast service updates and changes. Together, these two technologies erase the previous constraints of hardware-based networks. While data centers can employ each technology on its own, NFV and SDN work synergistically to address the interoperability concerns that prevent hardware-based networks from performing as well.
Benefits of Using NFV and SDN
The main benefit of switching data centers to NFV and SDN is the incredible cost efficiency. Instead of investing in specialized hardware to handle certain tasks, all data centers need is commodity hardware to handle centralized processes. Network operators can house new applications, updates, and network processes wherever a server has space as opposed to mapping specific functions and data flows to certain hardware appliances.
The scalability of moving to the cloud is another benefit. Data centers will be able to grow and transform quicker than ever by transferring processes away from hardware and into VMs (virtual machines). The efficiency provided by SDN and NFV improves the overall arrangement of data pathways and applications within a data center, and efficiency means savings for both the data centers and end users.
CAPEX (capital expenses) and OPEX (operational expenses) can be significantly reduced with the implementation of NFV and SDN, and the cost savings trickle down to end users who no longer have to purchase certain hardware packages to utilize the solutions provided by the data center. The lowered overhead cost also translates to greater operating profits or the ability to offer more competitive pricing to end-users.
In terms of security, data centers can modify their existing security measures to the VM hypervisor, reducing costs of individual security agents on
each VM employed at a data center. The protection is effectively the equivalent of former security measures, making it the optimal solution for data centers that are already moving to the cloud.
By 2020, SNS Research expects operator network investments in NFV and SDN to reach 21 Billion dollars from 2.3 Billion dollars today. This growth, coupled with the TCO (total cost of ownership) savings provided by the new technology has already impacted the business case for operators to hold onto hardware-based solutions. NFV servers running AppliedMicro’s X-Gene® are already showing the ability to help operators achieve lower TCO.
X-GeneTM and X-WeaveTM represent new, grounds-up Cloud Server and connectivity solutions tailored for next generation data centers.
Our high-speed OTN connectivity products include a broad array of physical layer, framer, and mapper solutions.
Our embedded processors are widely deployed in markets such as NAS devices, wireless LAN, multi-function printers and networking equipment.