How you can use NFV to reinvent your enterprise network


Software-based network devices offer agility, simplicity and security that physical devices can’t match

Based on our experience with clients, around 10% of the average IT budget is spent on network technology. As organizations look for ways to optimize their IT environments, that portion of the budget is well worth reviewing—especially when you look at the stacks of abandoned, special-purpose network gear being stored in back rooms around the company. Sooner, rather than later, your current investments are going to end up in the same pile.

But that no longer needs to be the case. Here are a few ideas to help you reduce your network costs and improve the responsiveness, agility and efficiency of network operations.

The days of single function network devices are limited thanks to the rapid commercialization of Network Function Virtualization (NFV) – a way to virtualize switches, routers, firewalls, load balancers and other common network gear. By replicating the functions of physical devices in software, NFV enables an enterprise to eliminate dozens, hundreds or thousands of custom hardware appliances, replacing them with software running on standardized high-volume servers, or even in the cloud.

Replacing stacks of proprietary hardware with commodity compute resources means a vastly simplified maintenance and upgrade program. NFV puts an end to the ongoing shell game of installing new hardware to replace old hardware. When an update for a virtual router or any other NFV device is released, maintenance can happen remotely, and even automatically. Compare that with the cost to dispatch a field tech to every office to update old equipment. (Often, it doesn’t happen, creating still other issues as a result.)

Provisioning can be just as simple, too, especially when setting up offices in regions where regulatory restrictions make it difficult to get certain types of equipment. There’s no need to get approvals to ship special devices when you can send a plain computing box and download network device images.

Need more network resources to handle a seasonal rush or special workload? Provisioning service to meet demand spikes can be automated as well. And when demand subsides, excess capacity can be shed—without creating a pile of unused equipment or carrying a cost for excess capacity.

And what about security? Common security threats target vulnerabilities on outdated equipment that hasn’t been maintained. An old, forgotten device in a remote office can provide an easy entry point for network intruders. On the other hand, a virtual router or firewall that automatically receives the latest updates is less vulnerable to compromise.

All of this adds up to a network that is less complex, more secure, faster and less expensive. And, without the need to keep stacks of old hardware around for spare parts, you’ll have more storage space, too.

Phil Dreger is Global Network Services Offering Manager, Cloud and Platform Services, at DXC Technology.

Jennifer Tabeling is Program Manager – Hosting and Network Solutions, Cloud and Platform Services at DXC Technology.

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