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By Erin Harrison June 15, 2013

While you have likely heard of software-defined networks (SDN), another related tech topic that’s hot these days is network functions virtualization, or NFV.

Driven by the benefits of virtualization, as the transformation of the way services are delivered online accelerates, there are few fresher topics than the moves of data center operators to SDNs and the closely associated and complementary initiative of NFV for service providers. While you may have heard of SDN, NFV is a term that may not be familiar. What follows is an introduction to NFV and why it is likely to be a critical part of service delivery in the future.

As NFVZone’s Peter Bernstein explained, SDN was created by researchers and data center architects. In contrast, NFV was created by a consortium of service providers. It now has its own NFV Industry Specification Group (ISG) formed with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), an independent, non-profit, standardization organization in the telecommunications industry. To read more about the challenges and benefits of NFV, click here.

The move from proprietary hardware to software running on commercial off-the-shelf servers at the world’s telcos is one of the biggest transformations we will see this decade, TMC CEO Rich Tehrani noted in a blog post this week.

“Over time, we can expect to see a number of network functions, which used to be supplied by hardware vendors through proprietary boxes, turn into software running on servers with Intel or ARM chips, perhaps supplied by HP or Dell, running VMware or some other flavor of virtualization,” he explained. The concept is otherwise known as NFV.

A while back, Tehrani wrote about the concept in the post “Metaswitch Asks: Are You Ready to be a Software Telco?” and more recently in “NFV-Based Software Telcos Need OSS/BSS Interoperability.” Read about Tehrani’s predictions here.

Making NFV headlines this week, Metaswitch Networks was lauded by independent test lab Miercom, which tested Metaswitch’s Perimeta Session Border Controller (SBC). According to the report, running on either standard servers or as a complete hardware appliance, Perimeta offers “exceptional scalability, performance and security for service providers.”

In fact, while running on standard commodity servers, Perimeta successfully processed over 54 million calls at a rate of 1,000 calls per second while under a 15-hour denial-of-service attack, without dropping any calls – higher capacity than Metaswitch’s competitors, according to Rob Smithers, CEO of Miercom.

Perimeta is a software-centric solution, able to run on standard commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware or virtualized in the cloud, which is a critical component in the path towards NFV and in helping to transition network operators into software telcos. To read more about the test results, click here.

For more NFV news, be sure to visit NFVZone again next week for all the latest developments.



Executive Editor, Cloud Computing

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