Virtual network functions (VNFs) have a lot of potential to simplify networking in the enterprise because they replace physical appliances with software that is simpler to deploy and manage. The challenge many IT organizations face is that they are not prepared to manage a lot of VNFs. FatPipe Networks today moved to address that challenge by introducing FatPipe VNF, a multi-function implementation of a VNF that combines routing, firewall, security, deep packet inspection, quality of service (QoS), WAN optimization and Domain Name System (DNS) management in a single VNF that can be deployed on top of a FatPipe software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN).
FatPipe Networks CTO Sanch Datta says it’s already apparent that the SD-WAN and network function virtualization (NFV) platforms that are employed to run VNFs are starting to converge. To accelerate that process within the enterprise, FatPipe Networks created a multi-function VNF that enables organizations to employ their SD-WANs as an NFV platform.
Datta says FatPipe Networks expects FatPipe VNF to appeal more to enterprises than telecommunications carriers that are trying to create networks based on isolated VNF services. Enterprise IT organizations are more interested in deriving the benefits of VNFs in the simplest way possible.
In some cases, Datta says IT organizations will opt to deploy and manage VNFs themselves. But those same organizations will also wind up consuming network and security services enabled by VNFs that are provided by carriers and other managed service providers.
“They will mix and match them over time,” says Datta.
Datta notes that FatPipe VNF is also designed to be extensible in that it can be used to host third-party VNFs as well.
It may still take a while for VNFs to take over enterprise networks. But as networks continue to transform from being based on hardware to a set of application services, it’s now only a matter of time before many of the physical appliances that today clog enterprise networks start to slowly disappear.