Network administrators understand the challenges associated with maintaining reliable operations of complex network devices and infrastructure. A malfunctioning router causing network downtime potentially costs millions of dollars in opportunity cost annually for an industry-average organization. Vulnerable network devices further represent security gaps that malicious actors could exploit. Despite the existence of common standards across multiple vendors, network devices from multiple vendors can differ enough to cause concern about integration and vendor lock-in.
Centralized Remote Management: Network Function Virtualization (NFV) solves many of these issues by providing a more centralized way to manage many of the functions provided by traditional network devices. Instead of investing in new physical routers and traveling to different locations when a network needs to be upgraded, network administrators can configure a virtual router from a server without ever leaving the office.
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Low Costs and Scalability: Many companies hesitate to invest in network infrastructure due to the high overhead that comes with installing and maintaining network infrastructure. Companies that have already invested in Virtual Machine packages may find NFV especially attractive for keeping infrastructure costs under control because it works on the same basic concept of virtualizing many functions that previously required the purchase of dedicated devices. Companies can deploy and scale NFV to suit their needs, including scaling up or down as necessary, without the additional cost of investing in physical hardware.
Automated Service Delivery with Orchestration: NFV can orchestrate network functions to make sure all virtual devices remain coordinated and make network management less time-consuming. Because the devices exist on their host machine, network administrators can waste less time installing and maintaining the hardware needed to keep the network running smoothly. This also reduces the costs associated with downtime when a hardware device fails to operate optimally or malfunctions.
Faster Deployment: By speeding up the deployment of a flexible network, companies can take advantage of an accelerated time-to-market of new technologies that suit their needs. This works especially well if a company has gone through the poor experience of being locked into a single vendor that did not update its technology in a timely fashion or made updates more costly than the company could afford.
Security: When security counts as a priority, NFV improves the speed at which administrators can lock down devices in the event of a breach. Malicious actors might exploit unsecured routers as weak points in a company’s security plan that could be used to intercept data packets or introduce malware as innocent-looking data packets traveling over network infrastructure. Virtualized network services put the functions of routers and firewalls into their own virtual box that administrators can quickly isolate when suspicious activity is detected, thus giving administrators a greater capacity to respond to security threats.
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Agile Deployment: NFV includes the capacity to allow for improved customer service by allocating resources as needed. If the customer service department receives most of its calls in the evening, the virtual router that serves this department could increase the available bandwidth to allow information to flow more freely between the customer service system and other departments that may need this information to solve consumer complaints. During the same hours, the accounting department router might scale back bandwidth once it detects that most accountants have logged out for the night. This saves bandwidth from being unnecessarily left open by routers that typically do not possess this functionality.
Energy Efficiency: NFV can save on energy costs because the company does not need to provide electricity to hardware devices that not only need power to operate, but also need a way to avoid overheating. Like a computer, a router’s electronics must have a cooling system to avoid heat damage. Companies can save on this overhead cost by investing in servers that can host an NFV. During times of light usage, some of these servers might operate in energy saving mode or power down for the night to save electricity.
Companies can save money and time by implementing an NFV that can easily be configured from a more centralized location. Administrators will enjoy the ability to react more quickly to events occurring on the network and employees in other departments will enjoy reduced downtime caused by malfunctions and maintenance of network devices.
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