I have written in the past about NFV and SDN being complementary. Now that some time has gone on, I wanted to expand on that. It is definitely still true, but being at Mobile World Congress crystallized my thinking on this subject.
First NFV is about providing virtual network functions. Some may view this as simply providing software-based network functionality (i.e. software-based media processing, software based packet inspection). While this is certainly a part of NFV, the technology is really more than that.
It’s also about providing these NFV functions in a cloud environment and in a coordinated fashion. A Virtual Network Function would be an application, or a media server; meanwhile, an entire NFV would be the application running on virtualized servers in a cloud environment.
To me, SDN is about how all the services that NFV creates are delivered; it’s more about how the networks are controlled. That’s why last year I wrote a blog about how a Diameter Signaling Controller could play a vital role in the world of SDN, since it sits in the middle of all the signaling policy. The NFV orchestrator needs to talk to the SDN orchestrator; the SDN orchestrator could be part of the DSC.
In short, NFV and SDN are different, and both are continuing to move forward to play pivotal roles in the future of communications networks. There are challenges for sure, and I’ll talk about them in a future blog.