Technology - Network Function Virtualization

Software Defined Networking (SDN) has reshaped how we do networking from static, hardware centric networking equipment to agile, cognitive and software driven networking. Routers and firewalls no longer need to have custom silicon but rather can be implemented based on off-the-shelf X86 hardware. This new paradigm enables software modules and services to exists on these commodity hardware. Some of the more sophisticated such services are grouped under the name "Network Function Virtualization" or "NFV".

Early common NFVs included simple localized service components such as firewall, NAT, DHCP and others. In essence these network function virtualization efforts were aimed at mobilizing legacy services in such a way that they can be provisioned remotely from the Internet (a.k.a. Cloud First or Cloud Driven). Mushroom's NFV framework include such simple functions, and takes further advantage of the software defined nature by creating modern Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) that are distributed overlays.

In essence VNFs are overlay tunnels, similar to traditional VPN tunnels, with 2 primary difference:

1) VNFs, unlike traditional VPN tunnels, are capable of encapsulating 2 or more WAN resources within the tunnel.

 2) VNFs, unlike traditional VPN tunnels, are capable of implementing sophisticated algorithms that can steer IP packets for better performance and reliability.

As an example, Broadband Bonding is a specific type of Network Function Virtualization that has the ability to monitor various parameters on the WAN transport (such as latency, packet loss, jitter, throughput and many others) and intelligently make per packet routing decisions to enable aggregation of WAN links for a fatter IP tunnel that can be utilized even for a single flow.

Another example of a Network Function Virtualization is an overlay tunnel such as the VoIP Armor, whereby the overlay tunnel optimizes the Voice-over-IP packets for the parameters that matters for the application, i.e. the Mean Opinion Score (MOS).

 

As illustrated in the diagram above, various distributed VNFs can live between 2 end-points (similar to how various VPNs can be built between 2 end-points), where each overlay VNF tunnel is optimizing the overlay tunnel for a specific class of applications. These VNFs combined with the layer7 filtering and/or explicit traffic filtering policies on the end devices will assign the IP packets into the right tunnel and therefore optimizing the overall performance.

This framework enables organizations to easily roll out networking devices to their location(s) with ease, as the advanced algorithms running will self optimize the end user experience.

Similarly, for service providers and partners, Mushroom's NFV framework offers a scaleable and quick time to market service portfolio.

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