NFV-as-a-Service – Meeting the Demands of Cloud Velocity

Stefan Raab
NFV-as-a-Service – Meeting the Demands of Cloud Velocity


From Internet Speed to Cloud Velocity

The term “Internet speed” has long been used to reference the fast pace of change that was ushered in as the Internet became the new backbone for real-time communications. This Washington Post article highlights how a decade ago, the Internet looked very different than it does today. Go back 20 years and it’s almost unrecognizable ̶ Prodigy, CompuServe, Infoseek, all bygones.

Today, the pace of change is defined by “cloud velocity,” which makes Internet speed seem like a quaint stroll in the park. In my post with Chiaren Cushing, The Mobile Cloud: Where Mobile Traffic Really Moves, we talk about the mobile-cloud mashup and how mobile, cloud and Internet have become intrinsically linked to deliver the instantaneous experience users expect today.

Looking at this mashup, we can clearly see the difference between cloud velocity and Internet speed. One of the best examples is the iTunes App store, which demonstrates cloud velocity’s global scale and ability to pivot on-demand to meet the changing tastes of consumers.

Below are screenshots showing the top ten paid and free apps from 2014 and 2012. Not one single paid app, or its related franchise, was able to survive the two-year window. Not only are those apps no longer top sellers, most of them have probably been deleted from most cell phones.

Top Paid Apps in 2014


Top Paid Apps in 2012


In the realm of free apps, they did better ̶ four apps survived. One of those, Facebook, grew from 1.06B users to 1.4B, having to add infrastructure on the backend to support a two-year growth greater than the population of the United States.

Top Free Apps in 2014


Top Free Apps in 2012


Internet speed, in terms of introducing new technologies in the telecommunications industry, has followed a very clear pattern: more than two years of standardization, followed by 18+ months of product development and, finally, a year-long deployment timeline. The lag and cost of this nearly five-year cycle has made a significant portion of the network operators’ service revenue disappear. Operators can’t afford the risk of deploying new services without a straight path to “majority-subscriber penetration.”

Network Functions Virtualization

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) promises to bring cloud velocity to network service provider (NSP) technology by enabling specific network services (i.e., routers, load balancers, firewalls, packet gateways, etc.) to be carried out on virtual machines rather than dedicated hardware. A valid technology, NFV is still dependent on having a cloud infrastructure to host these network functions, standardization of which was started by ETSI in 2012. At the first meeting, everyone attending had Temple Run on his or her phone.


Virtual Network Functions (VNF) from vendors, large and small, are available for all manner of network functions, yet adoption has been slow as these functions are waiting for operators to build cloud infrastructures based on “as yet to be defined” standards. Rather than wait, some VNF vendors are deploying their network functions in their own cloud infrastructures, managed private clouds or in the public cloud and offering them “as a Service.” These VNFaaS are deployed and managed by the vendor rather than the operator, enabling NSPs to eliminate lengthy deployment cycles and make new services available as soon as their network is connected to the cloud environment.

In this new model, the barriers to entry are lower and a NSP’s time to revenue can go from years to weeks. It also gives product teams a new flexibility to develop high-margin, low-penetration services that they otherwise couldn’t justify.

With our worldwide footprint of network- and cloud- dense IBX data centers, Equinix provides the ideal home for VNFaaS providers. Contact us to learn more or schedule a meeting with one of our Global Solutions Architects.



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