Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is getting a lot of attention in Telecom circles these days. Initiated by leading providers around the world the NFV effort now has more than 150 participants crossing all of the functional boundaries in networking. NFV has been motivated by the astonishing array of appliances that have crept into provider networks. Even DNS appliances have emerged but the value proposition is almost exclusively around convenience rather than optimizing DNS for carrier environments.
But providers can’t afford to invest in convenience anymore, especially for network functions that are inherently made for NFV. Instead, to drive profitability and competitiveness providers are focusing on reducing costs and increasing business agility by making tomorrows IP like today’s IT: homogenous infrastructure that rides a price/performance curve fueled by brutal global competition, layered with software that can be extended, scaled, adapted and updated programmatically.
With NFV network architectures, deployment models, and service delivery will be reshaped so they’re far more responsive to changing requirements which will impact most networking technologies. A particular challenge for the migration will be transitioning legacy security technology which is often dependent on proprietary hardware for intensive packet processing to discover threats. Somehow this “heavy lifting” needs to move onto commodity hardware.
DNS-based security solutions can take on part of this security burden. Since virtually every Internet application uses the DNS, including most malware, it can reveal a range of security threats. A layer of DNS protections in the network reduces the burden on other security infrastructure by identifying malware with minimal processing. Some of the Intensive packet processing on expensive proprietary hardware can be replaced with highly efficient DNS intelligence on cheap commodity hardware.
Even more operational and business value can be gained from the combination of NFV and the right DNS software. With a platform like Nominum’s it’s simple to gather detailed data and intimately understand network activity. Rich data can be filtered, aggregated and indexed and fed to visualization or analytics applications or uploaded to external systems for big data analytics, event management or archiving. Data can even be anonymized to ensure regulatory compliance and adherence to terms of service, or other legal obligations.
Networks have to change to reflect today’s competitive realities. The economics of appliances are failing, hampering agility and burdening providers with proprietary hardware and accelerating obsolescence. Software is the new network currency. The move away from bespoke hardware to software-centric network architectures will transform service delivery and in turn the service provider business itself.