Enterprises are quickly discovering the advantages of virtual network functions (VNFs) to provide network services such as routing, security and WAN. Three factors are motivating network and cloud architects to include VNFs in their toolbox of network infrastructure solutions.
- Speed. Widespread cloud adoption is moving core IT functionality out of the data center to the network edge to reach new markets, deliver new applications and respond quickly to changing processing demands. As a result, enterprises have come to expect “cloud speed” deployment of resources and services.
- Cost. Network functions virtualization of services previously provided by purpose-built network hardware has lowered the cost of deploying and managing these virtual services.
- Connection The complexity of hybrid, multicloud networks is forcing enterprises to find more agile means of establishing and managing interconnections among branch offices and cloud, network and ecosystem partners.
Virtual network functions are deployed on-demand and managed centrally to provide services across widely distributed networks. In comparison to network hardware, VNFs offer a more cost-effective deployment option.
Making the transition from physical to virtual
Making the transition to virtual network functions requires some reorientation regarding network design and deployment. Seasoned architects know the process for selecting, racking and configuring network hardware. Architects accustomed to procurement and implementation of network hardware with devices physically connected or chained to achieve the specific infrastructure or data flow requirements now need to think virtually.
With virtualization, an overlay network is abstracted from the underlying network hardware. Architecture and design are therefore specific to the overlay network and not defined by the underlying hardware. Virtualization gives architects new abilities to effectively set up and manage the network. Configuration such as IP addressing, route tables, segmentation and multi-tier designs remain vitally important, but there is no longer the concern with hardware.
Hybrid, multicloud environments are the norm
Few enterprises have moved their entire IT infrastructure, data and applications to the cloud. Hybrid, mutlicloud environments predominate, with data and applications strategically distributed across data centers and cloud providers. Many enterprises continue to maintain network hardware in their data centers and in racks or cages of colocation providers. Virtual network functions enable enterprises to continue to leverage these physical investments yet easily extend network reach without requiring additional hardware expenses.
Equinix simplifies VNF deployment and cloud connectivity
Equinix facilitates the rapid deployment of virtual network functions and removes the complexity of connecting to cloud environments. Equinix Network Edge provides a catalog of virtual network functions from leading vendors such as Cisco, Juniper, Palo Alto, Fortinet and CloudGenix. Two examples show how Equinix enables enterprises to expand the reach and capabilities of their current networking infrastructure.
Network infrastructure solutions simplify cloud connections
In the first example, an enterprise uses applications in AWS and Google environments while Oracle is hosted in a different cloud environment. Equinix enabled this company to easily bridge the three cloud environments. The ECX FabricTM provides a private cloud interconnect to the Oracle shared database via virtual connections that are created in minutes via the portal. A virtual router is deployed using Network Edge to handle the routing between multicloud environments.
A second example has an enterprise looking for more cost-effective methods to synchronize data across cloud providers and maintain connectivity to cloud services in the event of failure. Equinix data centers in Ashburn and Chicago provide virtual circuits for internet transport, direct connections to cloud providers and secure connectivity between cities to synchronize data and applications between the two environments. Virtual network functions deployed via Network Edge in the Equinix data centers allowed the enterprise to quickly establish the Chicago DR hub, avoiding delays and costs that would have been associated with physical network hardware implementation. The architecture provides secure, high-performance connections and enables rapid failover to the DR system for processing continuity.
In both of these use cases, virtual network functions complement existing network hardware deployed in corporate data centers or colocation centers and allow an enterprise to quickly expand its network infrastructure without additional investments in network hardware.
Experience the power of Network Edge
Enhancing your network infrastructure solutions can provide for smoother expansion and deployment as needed via an on-demand provisioning model. It also helps eliminate the need for an ongoing logistics back and forth which can hamper production times and diminish deployment effectiveness.
Network and cloud architects can learn how quickly and easily virtual network functions can be deployed by taking a few minutes to watch the Network Edge deployment demo. Architects looking for a hands-on experience are urged to sign up for the Network Edge free trial, an opportunity to see how virtual network functions can become part of your network infrastructure solutions.
Virtual network functions are deployed on-demand and managed centrally to provide services across widely distributed networks.