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NFV And SDN Alter The IT Landscape

Virtualisation is completely reshaping the IT landscape and companies must now embrace this change or risk being left behind.

Network functions virtualisation (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) have drastically changed the way businesses deliver IT, with a notable decrease in their reliance on hardware. Specifically, the way organisations manage their networks is changing in light of these new technologies and this is something that Riverbed Technology has been at the forefront of.

Riverbed is a leader in application performance infrastructure; its range of products is designed to detect and address any problems within a network or its applications before they adversely impact on the end user. Essentially the IT industry is seeing a shift away from proprietary dedicated hardware and towards software-based solutions as a means of controlling networks.

The NFV movement first began at the OpenFlow World Congress exhibition in October 2012, Computer Weekly states. It was proposed by a group of network service providers, which envisaged a route to decreasing the quantity of proprietary hardware needed to create and operate network services. Instead of routers, firewalls and load balancers managing core network elements, virtual machines would take control in a simpler, stream-lined alternative.

However, while this has become an increasingly popular approach over the past two years, experts have warned that it is not wise to rely solely on software just yet. Specifically, when operating large-scale networks it is key that the proprietary router and server base is maintained so that performance is not compromised.

Riverbed recognises that there is still the need for both hardware and software focused solutions depending on the nature of the network that needs to be managed. The company’s CTO, Steve Riley, explained that it was a question of "organisational politics and procedural barriers" for deciding which solution suited.

He said: "NFV is currently in a stage of growth, with the primary users being service providers and telcos, rather than enterprises. We’re already seeing actual production of network functions virtualisation technologies in service providers, and we expect larger telco providers to put it into production this year."

"Service providers and telcos came up with the idea of NFV. They were tired of buying hardware boxes. As a matter of fact, one of the largest telcos has told their vendors, ‘Don’t ever sell us another box again.’ So it’s not uncommon for telcos to demand that providers sell them software instead of hardware boxes.”

Key to the rise of NFV over the past 24 months has been the role of SDN; SDN, especially when based on OpenFlow, has the potential of multiplying the benefits of NFV. Indeed, in many ways, NFV is a logical response from the national communications service providers to increase the flexibility of their assets, to provide cloud services on a much more distributed and local footprint.

As more and more organisations look to migrate IT services into the cloud, these software-reliant solutions for managing networks and applications are becoming far more popular. Riverbed is one such company that is offering more efficient and cost-effective means of controlling dispersed and outsourced networks.

If you would like to find out more about Riverbed, please click here .

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