Virtualization is an ideal solution for mobile operators to rapidly scale up or scale down network resources and services to fulfill their real-time requirements. It boasts significant benefits for the operators such as rapid service innovation, reduced CAPEX and OPEX, and accelerated time-to-market.
Having its focus on the optimization of network resources and services, the Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs) or Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) consolidate and deliver the network components necessary to support a fully virtualized environment. The NFV Management and Orchestration (also known as MANO) of ETSI group defines a framework for how VNFs are provisioned, configured, and deployed in the NFV infrastructure (NFVI).
The key components of the NFV MANO framework that work in cohesion are Virtualized Infrastructure Manager (VIM), VNF Manager (NFVM) and NFV Orchestrator (NFVO).
- Virtualized Infrastructure Manager (VIM) — Controls and manages the NFV infrastructure such as the virtual/physical computing, storage, and networking resources, along with collecting events and performance metrics. Examples of VIMs are VMware, OpenStack, and CloudStack.
- The VNFM is responsible for the lifecycle of VNFs, such as the creation and termination, along with the FCAPS (Fault, Configuration, Accounting, Performance and Security functions).
- NFV Orchestrator (NFVO) — Onboards new Network Service (NS), VNFFGs, and VNF packages; authorizes and validates NFVI resource requests; manages the NS lifecycle; and it performs a validation/authorization of NFVI requests.
The Virtual Network Function Repository and Management (VRM) handles specific network functions and runs on virtual machines (VMs) that are on the top of the hardware networking infrastructure. The VRM functions as a standard Virtual Network Functions Manager (VNFM) that holds the VNF repositories and license keys for the VNFs. The four major components of VNFM are VNF Descriptor (VNFD) Catalog, VNF Provisioning, VNF Configuration Management, and VNF Monitoring and Auto Healing. The process is all about the lifecycle management of VNFs.