Why You Should Use SDN Infrastructure to Manage VNFs

John Hanahan
Why You Should Use SDN Infrastructure to Manage VNFs

Software-defined networking (SDN) is the future. Enterprises that understand SDN capabilities and have embraced an SDN strategy are realizing quantifiable benefits—operationally and economically. SDN replaces the control plane inside networking hardware with software known as the controller to provide greater agility in setting up and managing network infrastructure.

SDN Provides the Foundation for Network Agility

SDN incorporates a variety of networking technologies that allow network engineers and administrators to respond quickly to changing business requirements. For enterprises coping with the challenges of managing the growing number of interconnections that support widely-distributed network resources, connections to multiple cloud environments, and the need to continually optimize network performance, SDN offers a welcome solution.

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Key capabilities of interest to professionals responsible for network design, implementation and management include:

  • Lower operating costs through centralized network orchestration and management. With SDN, many routine network administration activities are now automated.
  • Easily deploy virtual network services and modify network configurations without the need to deploy new network hardware.
  • Accelerate service delivery and support greater agility in virtual and physical network provisioning when launching new applications and virtual machines to handle processing demands.
  • Central control point to apply security and policy information consistently across the enterprise.
  • Maintain the required quality of services (QoS) via automated traffic optimization for critical, latency-sensitive or high-throughput use cases like voice, video or gaming.

Adopting an SDN approach liberates network administrators from the limitations of specialized network hardware that is not easily deployed or relocated to accommodate changing network demands. With a central means of control, in minutes administrators establish or modify network operations and performance without experiencing delays imposed by hardware.

Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric: A Global SDN Infrastructure

Equinix has invested heavily in building a global network of data centers (Platform Equinix™) linked via SDN-based interconnections Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric (ECX Fabric™). This SDN environment allows enterprises to take advantage of a hybrid IT infrastructure that blends on-premises and multi-tenant data centers, networks, clouds, applications, data and security to support globally integrated, end-to-end digital solutions.

Virtual Network Functions Complement Your SDN Strategy

Virtual network functions (VNF) are another advancement in making enterprise network management more agile. VNFs replace purpose-built network hardware devices with software that runs on high-performance standard server platforms. Firewalls, routers, VPN terminators, SD-WAN and many others are now available as software. Virtual network functions deliver many of the same benefits afforded by SDN—on-demand deployment, easy configuration, centralized management and lower operational costs.

SDN Facilitates Virtual Network Function Deployment and Management

Equinix is making it easy for enterprises to deploy and manage a wide range of virtual network functions from market-leading vendors like Cisco, Palo Alto Networks, Versa, CloudGenix, Fortinet and Juniper Networks. Network Edge from Equinix is an online marketplace of VNFs that allows network architects and administrators to 1) Select the network function; 2) Configure it; 3) Specify the deployment location; and 4) Connect to the cloud, network, data center or branch offices via ECX Fabric. The process is accomplished in a matter of minutes. For SDN Network Functions, Network Edge allows for easy deployment of these virtual devices, with a seamless hand off to the respective vendor’s controller function. This enables all the benefits of SDN, while deploying on Equinix’s hosted Network Edge solution.

Synergy of SDN and VNF at Equinix

Deploying virtual network functions via Network Edge while leveraging the SDN capabilities of ECX Fabric can positively impact operations and management in the following ways:

  • A single source for a wide range of marketing-leading virtual network functions simplifies procurement and provisioning.
  • Rapid, simplified configuration and deployment. Equinix works closely with each vendor to ensure their virtual network functions are pre-integrated with ECX Fabric.
  • Seamless integration into your centralized controller for monitoring and management of all VNFs deployed across Platform Equinix and your WAN.
  • Strategically locate network functions for IT traffic exchange and control at the edge to access critical, latency-sensitive IT services, applications and data.
  • Easily scale network services up or down to meet changing demands.
  • Quickly and temporarily deploy VNFs in support of proof-of-concept applications.
  • Accelerate time to market for new applications or new geographies.

Together, the above capabilities and benefits support Gartner’s Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) market category that addresses new operational requirements that rely on cloud-based services. These requirements include:

  • The convergence of WAN edge and network security models into the cloud.
  • Cloud-native, cloud-based service delivery to connect and secure all the locations, cloud resources and mobile users globally.
  •       A network designed for all edges, implementing security services across global endpoints.
  •       Identity and secure network access where policies are associated with people, IoT devices and edge computing locations.

SDN and VNFs are highly complementary. VNFs deployed in an SDN infrastructure give enterprises far greater agility in managing widely-distributed network resources while enabling a better user experience across a variety of applications.

Accelerate Your Evolution From the Physical to the Virtual

Virtualization is transforming the way that IT services are designed, deployed and managed. Equinix is helping enterprises worldwide evolve their network operations from the physical to the virtual. VNFs deployed in an SDN infrastructure like ECX Fabric reduce operational costs, improve security, and optimize network performance. Working with Equinix, there’s no faster way to realize the benefits of SDN and VNFs

Network professionals interested in learning how virtual network functions can be selected, configured, and connected in minutes can gain first-hand experience by registering for a free trial.


Equinix is making it easy for enterprises to deploy and manage a wide range of virtual network functions from market-leading vendors like Cisco, Palo Alto Networks, Versa, CloudGenix, Fortinet and Juniper Networks.