Communications networks are becoming increasingly virtualized, as more and more applications are implemented either wholly or partly in software through the use of virtual machines (VMs) – software programs that can emulate a single process, or complete computer operating systems, and can be easily added, subtracted or adjusted as network demand changes. Customers are relying on the coexistence of VMs on a single platform to achieve a more efficient and cost effective network.
The IT industry has been focusing increasing attention on software as the potential benefits to be gained through technologies such as network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) become more apparent.
But hardware still has an important role to play. Indeed, much of the competitive performance and efficiency advantages that differentiate today’s leading-edge networking and telecom equipment platforms are the direct result of vendors’ varying strategies for determining which functions to emulate in software and which to offload onto silicon.
Security, data compression, cryptography, switching and packet processing are just a few of the processor-intensive functions that may benefit from implementation in hardware. Protocols for detecting network traffic issues and infrastructure bottlenecks can also gain significant performance benefits from a hardware-based approach.
In this video, Product Manager David Rosado discusses some of the challenges customers are facing with NFV and offload requirements.