Operational Considerations for Network Functions Virtualization – Part 1

Just a few weeks back I had the pleasure to present at VMworld 2014 in San Francisco. My session “OPT2029 – Considerations for Operational Efficiency in Telco Cloud Deployments” covered various aspects around Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure and it’s impact on existing operational models.

Why is NFV important after all? Well, let’s take a look at ETSI’s summary of the key benefits for Network Operators and their customers:

  • Reduced operator CAPEX and OPEX through reduced equipment costs and reduced power consumption
  • Reduced time-to-market to deploy new network services
  • Improved return on investment from new services
  • Greater flexibility to scale up, scale down or evolve services
  • Openness to the virtual appliance market and pure software entrants
  • Opportunities to trial and deploy new innovative services at lower risk

Now, I’d like to start with a quick overview picture around Network Functions Virtualization that I created from ETSI’s NFV overview documents:


As you can see, NFV is split up into various parts:

  • NFVI or Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure
  • VNF or Virtual Network Function(s)
  • NFV M&O or Management and Orchestration
  • Service, VNF and Infrastructure Description
  • OSS / BSS

In this post, I’d like to focus on considerations around introducing NFVI:


One very important thing is that you will only see most of the NFVI benefits come to live if you concentrate on as few NFV Infrastructures as possible. Each NFVI not only means fragmentation of resources but also operational complexity as each “silo” will have specifics that need to be operated in a separate way. Even though the underlying resources will most likely be consumed via API, the actual infrastructure requires operational procedures. So for the following parts, I will focus on a shared NFVI environment, not fragmented NFVIs:

Fragmented NFVI

As with most IT-related infrastructures, terminology and methodology from ITIL comes very handy to describe and differentiate the necessary processes for Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition and of course Service Operation. My experience with Service Operation in a virtual environment is very similar to VMware’s Cloud Operations methodology and publications around Operations Transformation. Some of the ITIL functions need to be much closer aligned than in traditional operations, e.g. Demand, Capacity, Performance, Incident, Problem and Configuration Management.

Also, in a completely shared environment, there will be a logical separation between “Tenants” and “Provider” or in our case VNF and NFVI. But this implies a new central function for taking care of NFVI holistically: a NFVI Center Of Excellence. This NFVI COE will be covered in the next part of this series.

New VMware Hands-On Labs available!

I just came across the VMware Hands-On Labs website and was excited to see many great new labs available there. Check them out!

For starters:

A new group, focussed on IT outcomes:

SDDC Labs:

VMware EVO:RAIL Demo

My colleague Duncan Epping (Twitter/Blog) just uploaded a video recorded by EVO:RAIL lead engineer Dave Shanley to demo the setup and usage of VMware EVO:RAIL.

You can read more about EVO:RAIL (the 4 node/16 hosts, 15-minute-setup solution with many partners) and EVO:RACK (in tech preview) at:

Sept 2: added more links to the additional materials section

VMworld 2014 US – Selected session videos on Youtube

That was fast! The VMworld team already uploaded a set of great videos to Youtube. Below, you can find a list of all videos that I have found so far.

Cross-linking my previous post here as well: VMworld 2014 – Summary, Notes and Links

Management Track

Hybrid Cloud Track

End-User Computing Track

VMworld 2014 – Summary, Notes and Links


VMworld 2014 is in full swing. After an amazing Day 1 and many announcements made in the General Session, Day 2’s keynote had even more technical details and demos about the announcements.

Day 1 Keynote:

Day 2 Keynote:

I just want to put my personal summary, notes and links out here. I’ll continue to work on this as well.

So, what was announced and why is VMworld so exciting so far?

First of all: The VMware EVO product family. It’s VMware’s entrance in the Hyper-Converged Infrastructure market. You can read more about EVO:RAIL (the 4 node/16 hosts, 15-minute-setup solution with many partners) and EVO:RACK (in tech preview) at:

Announcement of vRealize Suite as a comprehensive Cloud Management Platform (CMP) for Hybrid Cloud Environments. It also includes the renaming of multiple products:

  • vCloud Automation Center to be renamed to vRealize Automation
  • vCenter Operations Management Suite to be renamed vRealize Operations
  • IT Business Management to be renamed vRealize Business

If you want to learn more, check out:

Interviews with VMware Executives during VMworld:

Containers: there has been a lot of interest and discussion around Docker and Containers in general. As part of the general sessions, VMware involvement in this space has been explained in more detail:

Announcement of VMware Workspace Suite

VMware joins Open Compute Project as Gold Member.

VMware Integrated OpenStack. There were some exciting news around VMware’s Integrated OpenStack product. The overall goal is to provide OpenStack APIs to developers, have a reliable and production-grade OpenStack, simplify OpenStack deployment and operation as well as a single support contact. You can find out more at:


Edit Aug 27: added Horizon Workspace Suite announcements
Edit Aug 28: added Keynote videos