The 5 factors to consider in a carrier-grade NFV design

Turn on the faucet and you expect water to flow. Turn on the light switch and you expect the light to shine. Pick up the phone and you expect to be able to make or receive a call. Pick up a device and you expect connectivity. There is a consumer expectation of “always available.”

As the nature of services delivered over communications networks diversified, networks have become increasingly complex to handle the exploding volume of data along with high quality voice services. But consumer expectations of “always-on” have only increased.

Historically, communications service providers (CSPs) adopted the term carrier-grade to define network elements that were up to the rigor of deployment in an always-on communications network.  While there is not a hard definition, carrier-grade generally denoted five nines (99.999%) or six nines (99.9999%) of uptime availability- with six nines of availability equating to about six seconds of downtime per year.

NFV offers CSPs a move to a cloud-based virtualized network that runs on consumer-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware. This provides a software-based move away from proprietary hardware appliances and the lack of flexibility that comes along with them. The change is so significant that we need to re-evaluate the factors that define a solution as carrier-grade.

In the following 5 posts,  I’ll analyze the main 5 factors to consider:

  1. Availability
  2. Performance
  3. Scalability
  4. Security
  5. Manageability

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