Making It Connect

Making It Connect: Deploying Virtual Network Functions in Corporate Networks

Jordan Dukes

Enterprises are looking for more agile methods to deploy and manage corporate network infrastructure. They want to easily extend network reach without significant infrastructure investments. They need to efficiently establish secure, fast connections with multiple carriers and cloud providers to support their business applications across geographies. They must continually optimize performance by quickly deploying the appropriate network services to meet changing workloads.

Equinix is helping thousands of corporations worldwide achieve these goals with software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities that enable a corporation to dynamically connect its own network infrastructure on-demand on the Equinix global platform, regardless of location.

Equinix also provides a digital marketplace of virtual network functions (VNF) that allow architects to quickly deploy market-leading virtual routers, firewalls and SD-WAN devices that deliver services without the need for hardware provisioning. Together, SDNs and VNFs are changing the way corporate networks are designed, deployed and managed.

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A global platform for physical and virtual interconnections

Platform Equinix™ is the world’s largest global platform of interconnected data centers and business ecosystems. Via Platform Equinix and Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric (ECX Fabric™) corporations can directly, securely and dynamically connect distributed infrastructure and digital ecosystems using physical and virtual interconnections.

Platform Equinix and ECX Fabric help to fulfill the growing demand for private interconnection bandwidth needed to support digital businesses worldwide. In minutes, via a single portal, corporations establish secure, private connections to major cloud players such as Alibaba, AWS, Azure, Google, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce, as well as network service providers and digital supply chain partners. Equinix gives corporations the ability to:

  •       Quickly connect the existing corporate network and easily extend it to reach new resources and geographies.
  •       Aggregate services across networks for improved scalability and lower costs.
  •       Dynamically modify network services in response to changing bandwidth and processing requirements.
  •       Augment a primary backbone network with redundant or supplemental private interconnections for greater application reliability and performance.
  •       Accelerate hybrid cloud and multicloud deployments, with minimal complexity and cost.
  •       Enable short-duration workloads such as data migrations with a predictable opex cost model.

Equinix enables corporations to dynamically extend and connect their network architecture without the need for time-consuming procurement and installation of network hardware and infrastructure.

Deploy virtual network functions with ease

Virtual network functions replace purpose-built hardware such as routers, firewalls, SD-WAN with software running on high-performance standard server platforms. VNFs can be provisioned on-premises, in cloud-providers’ data centers, colocation data centers and remote branch offices. By eliminating the hardware requirement, VNFs further enhance a corporation’s ability to easily deploy and manage network architecture.

Network Edge from Equinix is a digital marketplace that allows architects to quickly deploy VNFs from leading vendors such as Cisco, CloudGenix, Fortinet, Juniper Networks, Palo Alto Networks and Versa. Equinix has worked closely with each of these vendors, following the ETSI NFV standards regarding integration with the Management and Network Orchestration (MANO) and Virtual Infrastructure Management (VIM) components of the network architecture. Equinix relieves architects of the complexity of allocating rack space, power and compute resources and ensures each VNF has the appropriate compute resources to optimize performance and deliver the required service level agreement.

Using the Network Edge portal, an architect selects the required VNF, indicates the metro area where it will be deployed, configures the virtual function and connects it to the required resources such as cloud provider, network provider, another Equinix colocation center or branch office.

Compared with the protracted process of procuring and implementing network hardware in a corporate data center or remote branches, Network Edge delivers equivalent capabilities in a fraction of the time. This dramatic improvement in service speed allows corporations to:

  • Accelerate time to market for new services and applications that depend on optimized network infrastructure and performance.
  • Quickly deploy network services in new geographies without the need to invest in network hardware and infrastructure.
  • Temporarily deploy network services to support proof-of-concept trials.
  • Strategically deploy VNFs to replace existing network devices or transition from physical to virtual network infrastructure.

Working with clients worldwide, some of the most beneficial applications of virtual network functions facilitated by Network Edge include:

  • Routers: Cloud to cloud routing to eliminate performance problems caused by “hair-pinning” traffic between clouds and corporate data centers.
  • Firewalls: Protect corporate applications and data from attacks initiated over the public internet.
  • SD-WAN: Simplify connections and optimize traffic flow between branch offices and applications and data hosted on multiple cloud environments.

Virtualization and SDN are complementary in their abilities to dramatically improve network design, deployment and management. Advancements in server performance allow virtual network functions to efficiently move packets across the data plane. SDN orchestrates the deployment and interactions of network services running in a virtualized architecture.

SDN and VNFs facilitate the transition to virtual architectures

For corporations born in the cloud, SDN and VNFs are the clear choice for building out network architecture. For established corporations, SDN and virtualization facilitate a smooth transition from physical to virtual architectures that provide greater flexibility and agility in supporting widely-distributed hybrid and multicloud environments.

Network architects intrigued by the advantages offered by virtual network functions deployed on a global platform of interconnected data centers are encouraged to register for the free trial. In minutes, you’ll experience the ease of deploying and managing network services.

This blog is part of our “Making it Connect” series that discusses how virtual networks deliver improved performance.