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Virtualization Showing Increased Value, But Not Without Some Troubles

November 27, 2015

More and more companies are taking on network functions virtualization (NFV), thanks to a string of positive benefits that the technology commonly offers. Yet even as companies put in NFV operations, there's a new understanding that this technology has some drawbacks. Some key hurdles remain to be overcome, and companies are looking at ways to do that while maintaining the edge these services offer.

NFV allows data centers to run a complete, multi-tier operation without having to route traffic through physical networks. With NFV, much as the name suggests, network functions and devices alike can be used virtually, routed through software, and thus give users the ability to do more with what's already on hand rather than having to expand the network. Driven by virtual switches, NFV can connect virtual machines on a single host, to the point where virtual switches can connection several virtual LANs (VLANs) without incident.

Additionally, since NFV provides Level 2 connection comparatively easily, this allows for ready connection with public cloud operations as well, improving its versatility. Level 2 connectivity also allows for a better security solution than the common Level 3 firewall: the zero-trust policy. With a zero-trust policy, reports suggest, every packet is inspected.

This becomes a bit of a problem in hybrid cloud systems, as the combination of two different styles of system complicates connections. There are ways to better connect the systems, though; VM ware's NSX system offers a means to fairly simply connect x86 virtualization to the network. Moreover, issues in the network itself can still make for some difficult times managing a virtualized network. A lack of visibility between virtual and physical networks can be difficult to overcome, and the technology is still suffering from a lack of overall standards in management.

It's easy to forget that NFV is still a new technology. The concept itself was only presented at the Software Defined Network (SDN) and OpenFlow World Congress in late 2012. Suggesting that what amounts to a three year old system might still have a few bugs, flaws and issues in it isn't out of line at all. As the technology is more put to use—and many companies are only just getting started with NFV—we'll likely see a lot more of these issues addressed and put to rest; there will simply be too much development in play for these not to be fixed.

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