The Economic Benefits of the Ciena Virtualized Edge Solution

Peter Fetterolf, Ph.D.


Over the last decade, enterprise networking has experienced a key paradigm shift with the transition from the deployment of physical network appliances that host specific network functions to the virtualization of those network functions or Network Functions Virtualization (NFV).

NFV systems run a common x86 hardware platform that provides a single physical device that can support multiple virtual applications or Virtual Network Functions (VNFs). The interoperability of those VNFs is enabled by Distributed Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure (D-NFVI) software. D-NFVI provides a hypervisor, virtual switch, and agent to deliver hosting, orchestrating, and service 
chaining of those applications or VNFs. Specifically, legacy networks have required enterprises to purchase and maintain multiple hardware appliances for various network functions, such as routers, 
firewalls, WAN optimizers, or Session Boarder Controllers (SBCs). With NFV, these functions can run as software VNFs on the common x86 server, sometimes referred to as Universal Customer Premises 
Equipment (uCPE). In addition to running VNFs, uCPE edge platforms can run a variety of edge applications on a single high-performance compute server. Examples of edge applications include the 
Internet of Things (IoT), robot control, and video surveillance. The term virtual edge is used to define an edge x86 server running a combination of VNFs and edge applications on top of D-NFVI software. 

Key benefits of virtualization include:

  • All network functions share the same uCPE hardware platform
  • Reduces CAPEX
  • Lowers sparing expenses
  • Reduces power consumption
  • Decreases equipment obsolescence
  • Increases operational agility
  • Enables easy deployment of new network functions without hardware installation
  • Complete application flexibility to meet ever-changing business requirements: Add applications or exchange for newer technologies without additional capital equipment investment
  • A single uCPE device can support multiple network connections for reliability, including LTE/5G backup to provide for high availability
  • NFV is well suited to network orchestration and automated management
  • VNF software can be scaled up or down to meet branch office requirements

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