The New Simplified Network Model

Rapid network traffic growth is driving constant change in the infrastructure as operators strive to scale their networks to keep up with the growth. In addition to the capital expense of this infrastructure expansion, the network is becoming more complex, which has led operators to employ the IT tool of virtualization, in the form of network functions virtualization (NFV), to reduce network complexity. NFV is becoming a reality in the network as equipment designers have virtualized numerous network elements such as the firewall, evolved packet core (EPC) and provider edge (PE) router. As virtualization subsumes many functions that modify services and connections which were otherwise performed in physical network elements, vendors are freed to develop network elements that are focused on moving bits and/or packets (which cannot be virtualized), and not performing ancillary network functions. This segregation of network functions into virtual versus physical processes suggests a two-layer model, which can simplify network planning and result in a more effective and efficient network.