Organizations that have made the switch from physical networking devices to virtual network functions (VNFs) often need to resize their virtual resources as business needs change. This could happen for a variety of reasons—for example, acquiring another business, supporting more remote workers or moving from testing into a wider deployment.
Virtualized infrastructure already offers well-known advantages that IT professionals have come to expect: faster time to market, more predictable OPEX-based costs and on-demand deployment in minutes instead of waiting months for hardware to arrive. Those benefits can be further enhanced with features that provide greater elasticity to accommodate ever-changing business and IT requirements.
Like everyone else, network engineers and architects want a faster, easier way to do their jobs. To address this demand, we’ve added VNF resizing as a new feature in our latest Equinix Network Edge release. The VNF resizing feature enables Equinix Network Edge users to size up virtual devices without provisioning a new VNF. So, you can start with a small resource—whether that’s a firewall, SD-WAN gateway, router or load balancer—and then increase to a medium or large resource without having to reconfigure anything. This new feature is a direct response to customer input indicating that our users desire the elasticity they’ve come to expect from other on-demand and virtualized infrastructure solutions. At this time, the resizing feature supports scaling up resources only.
Let’s explore some examples of when you might need to resize a VNF and then take a closer look at the benefits of building this feature into our virtual networking services.
Four use cases for scaling up a VNF
Traditionally, when Equinix Network Edge customers decided to scale up their VNF devices, they’d have to get a new license, redeploy the resource at the new size and re-create connections—all of which takes time and effort. Now, with the VNF resizing feature in Equinix Network Edge, they can size up dynamically in the portal with less manual intervention.
Here are four common examples we see from customers needing to size up a VNF:
1. Moving from testing into production
Many of our customers are used to working with physical networking hardware and want to play with Equinix Network Edge before they fully deploy a virtualized solution. They often start by testing Equinix Network Edge with a small device—for example, a firewall, router or SD-WAN gateway—requiring a small number of dedicated compute cores. When they’re ready to deploy in production, they may need to scale up to support their requirements. Instead of deleting the existing device, they can now simply resize to a larger one. The size correlates to the number of committed cores and memory for a given device.
2. Supporting remote workers
Virtual firewalls are an important part of providing the necessary security to support remote employees. Companies with a small remote workforce may have a small VPN firewall, but if an event like a natural disaster or pandemic happens, they might suddenly have more workers connecting to the VPN and thus need to scale it up.
3. Increasing throughput after finetuning device settings
To give another firewall example, sometimes network engineers or security teams start out using a firewall and later want to tune the device and access more of its capabilities—for example, deep packet inspection. But enabling more “nerd knobs” will directly impact the total available throughput. So, to optimize performance, customers sometimes need to resize the VNF.
4. Mergers, acquisitions and other growth scenarios
Digital infrastructure is a boon to businesses as they grow since it makes it faster and easier to stand up infrastructure solutions. There are several scenarios where business growth—whether through an acquisition or organic—may compel an organization to resize virtual devices. For example, an Equinix Network Edge customer might spin up an SD-WAN gateway and then need to super-size that device to support more users after a merger.
In all these examples, VNF resizing makes it quick and easy for networking teams to upgrade a VNF device without having to delete it and reprovision.
Simplify and scale your virtual networking resources
As organizations work to reduce costs, do away with physical hardware and redirect CAPEX to OPEX, virtual infrastructure makes sense. Equinix boasts a rich ecosystem of interconnected partners, service providers and clouds—and Equinix Network Edge is a dynamic tool for deploying virtual network services at the digital edge.
We know that IT users have become accustomed to the benefits of cloud and increasingly want to see the same benefits in all their IT services. When it’s time to scale up a virtual networking resource, nobody wants to spend extra time tearing down, reconfiguring and reprovisioning it. We’re constantly working to improve our digital services to meet customers’ requirements—and VNF resizing is the latest example.
The VNF resizing feature in Equinix Network Edge gives our customers even more flexibility to size up VNFs as their business grows or new requirements arise. Resizing VNFs offers clear benefits: It saves network engineers the manual effort required to reprovision VNFs every time they need to scale up. And it offers greater elasticity, which in turn translates into more agility and flexibility for the business.
You can learn more about Equinix Network Edge by downloading the Equinix Network Edge data sheet. We also offer a no-obligation 14-day Equinix Network Edge trial to give you an opportunity to explore the service and play with virtualized network functions. Check out the Equinix Network Edge free trial today.