Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) represent a radical and fundamental re-conceptualization of how wireless service providers are looking to design and deploy their networking infrastructure and offer new services while reducing their capital and operating expenditures.
With NFV, rather than deploy specialized systems of functionally dedicated hardware and software platforms that are often largely proprietary to the vendors selling them, the technology argues for separating the hardware from the software. NFV infrastructure is designed using generic, inexpensive “white boxes” that provide general computing, storage or networking resources. Specific network functions are then enabled via software-based control and management layers.
NFV has the potential to allow carriers to provision new services quickly and easily, dynamically scale network capacity while reducing their capital expenditure (capex) and operational expenditure (opex) budgets. And because NFV is designed to use commodity hardware, carriers will no longer be tied to a select group of OEMs to provide dedicated hardware solutions. This allows new hardware OEMs and software vendors to enter the market, allows carriers to work with multiple suppliers in their networks and has the potential to reshape the OEM competitive landscape.