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Array Networks 2018 Predictions: The Year of Enterprise NFV

VMblog Predictions 2018

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2018.  Read them in this 10th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Paul Andersen, VP of Marketing, Array Networks

2018: The Year of Enterprise NFV

While network functions virtualization (NFV) has been widely embraced by major telcos throughout the world, its adoption has been much slower among enterprises. In 2018, we predict that will begin to change as enterprises recognize the operational and business benefits that NFV can offer.

Almost all of the major enterprise IT initiatives in 2018 - private/public/hybrid cloud, digital transformation, blockchain and others - are heavily reliant upon the underlying network infrastructure in order to meet their respective potentials. Networking and security functions are critical components of the infrastructure that can have a negative impact on performance, agility and overall robustness if they are not addressed in concert with other business initiatives.

In the past, the go-to choice for networking and security solutions like ADCs, NGFWs, WAFs and others was dedicated, hardware-based single-function appliances. This option offers the best possible performance and throughput, but lacks agility and the ability to scale as needed to support business growth.

Virtual editions of networking and security products are another option that many IT managers have gravitated to more recently; however while they offer much improvement in agility and scalability, because they typically run on commercial off-the-shelf hardware their performance is much lower than that of their respective physical appliance counterparts.

In addition, hyperconverged infrastructures, which hold promise to simplify IT and reduce costs, are increasingly being deployed. However, like virtualized environments, this option also employs general-purpose hardware and thus networking and security VA performance is compromised.

Network functions virtualization purports to address the performance, agility, scalability and/or robustness shortfalls of the previously discussed options, but as mentioned, enterprises have been slow to embrace it. Industry analysts have reported that members of enterprise IT management teams cite organizational disruption, potential skills deficits, and the inability to clearly define ROI as prime concerns.

This can and must change.

One promising sign is a new class of products, known as Network Functions Platforms or virtualized/multitenant appliances, that have the potential to help enterprises address their main concerns with NFV adoption, as well as the respective drawbacks of both dedicated and virtual appliances.

Network Functions Platforms abstract and automate the complex configurations required by NFV so that any IT team - be it networking, server or virtualization focused - can easily and accurately deploy networking and security functions with little or no training needed. The intuitive WebUI also simplifies creation of service chaining, for example one or more ADC instances load balancing traffic across multiple WAF or NGFW instances.

Performance is guaranteed through dedicated resources (memory, I/O, SSL and compute) for each instance, and the ‘hypervisor tax' is minimized by providing separate resources for hypervisor overhead. In addition, by focusing on a narrower use case - networking and security functions central to supporting the performance of business-critical applications - ROI and TCO become much easier to calculate.

Network Functions Platforms may well be just the first step in achieving widespread adoption of NFV, but we believe they are an important steppingstone for enterprises that can have an immediate impact and pave the way for wider NFV deployments.


About the Author

Paul Andersen 

Paul Andersen is the VP of Sales, North America at Array Networks. He has more than 20 years of high-tech industry experience, and has previously served in various roles at Cisco Systems, Tasman Networks and Sun Microsystems. He served as Senior Director of Marketing for Array Networks for more than ten years, leading critical positioning, sales generation and marketing efforts as well as sales training and partner marketing, enablement and management. Paul holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing from San Jose State University. 

Published Wednesday, December 27, 2017 7:44 AM by David Marshall
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