How can SDN and NFV Improve Your Business?

Virtualization makes creating, implementing, and managing network services much easier. Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software-defined Networking (SDN) are key technologies for enabling this transformation.

There is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the distinctions between SDN & NFV networks in the enterprise sector; many people compare the two and believe one is better than the other.

SDN & NFV networks have a lot of common features. In reality, both can coexist in the same network and share similar traits and components. What sets them apart depends on the users and deployment.

Both techniques aim to minimize network cost, complexity, and rigidity by augmenting the physical network with a virtual overlay that is easier to install, maintain, reprovision, and troubleshoot.

What is an SDN & NFV network?

SDN & NFV are complementary approaches to network management. Let’s dive into the details.

What is Software-Defined Networking (SDN)?

The network of control planes is separated from the data plane in software-defined networking. The data plane is in charge of delivering packet tracer to intended destinations while the control plane is responsible for identifying and deciding the routing of packets through the network.

The result is more flexible and programmable networks. SDN is crucial for adapting to changes in cloud computing. In addition, SDN management improves network performance and monitoring.

Initially, software-defined networking was configured to be utilized specifically for local area networks (LANs). With time, this technology was successful in developing software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WANs) for enterprises. SD-WANs are a type of wide-area network that connects geographically distant data centers.

For example:
● Mobile carriers and internet providers use software-defined networking to boost their frequency range(bandwidth) with the growing demand. The administrator can allocate bandwidth to servers as per their will, as network provisioning is programmable.
● SDN is used by cloud service providers to assign multi-tenant cloud architecture. In multi-tenancy, administrators operate switches to channel traffic into various networks for multiple clients.

What is Network Functions Virtualizatoin(NVF)?

When proprietary network devices like routers and firewalls substitute with software counterparts that run on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware like ARM and x86, network services virtualization occurs.

NFV operates the network services without the use of physical devices that provide a network. Virtual network functions (VNFs) are core for network function virtualization. Examples of virtual network functions are virtual routers and virtual firewalls.

The NFV network architecture includes the structure that looks after the management, automation, and orchestration (MANO) of VNF components. It also supervises hardware and software-based computer memory and networking devices that enable virtual network services. Thus, it can be concluded that NFV architecture isn’t limited to just VNFs and software.

Virtualizing a network frees you from the need for constant configuration. It allows you to deploy and modify apps in a matter of minutes.

For example:
  ● Mobile edge computing – NFV allows edge devices to perform computational services and provide network functions by generating and utilizing either a single or multiple virtual machines (VM).
● Video Analytics – With the boom in Big Data, video analytics software is gaining popularity and all the information generation, collection, and analyses system from devices like edge, IoT, and smart devices will be built on NFV.

Evolution of SDN and NFV Network

With the implementation of SDN and NFV networks, cable companies have experienced a major shift in how they manage their networks and deliver services. As a result, both vendors and buyers of SDN and NFV solutions are experiencing huge opportunities. Let us look at the specific needs that gave rise to SDN and NFV networks.


Researchers were annoyed by the necessity to alter the software on network devices each time they wanted to experiment with new protocols. To overcome this time-consuming and brain-draining procedure, they came up with an idea to induce programmable behavior into the network devices and keep them under the control of the central element. This led to the invention of SDN.

The cloud data center was SDN’s next area of success. With the increase in the growth of these data centers in terms of size and scope, it became evident that there was an emerging need for better mechanisms to link and check the increasing number of virtual machines. SDN proved to be a promising way to improve the control over these growing data centers.


It was observed by the service providers that when they tried to accelerate the implementation of new network services to improve their revenue and growth targets, hardware-based appliances hampered their capacity to do so.

A consortium of service providers noticed that NFV which is the standard form of technique in IT virtualization was not just helpful in speeding up the innovative services but also useful in provisioning.

A group of service providers formed the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to lay the foundation for the core criteria and network architecture of NFV.

That said, there still exists ambiguity in terms of the role and benefits of SDN and NFV. Let’s discuss them.

Similarities and Differences in SDN & NFV Networks


SDN and NFV networks are interconnected in many ways. And when used together, they can create flexible and agile network infrastructures.

SDN has higher-level management responsibility for orchestrating entire network operations, whereas NFV provides basic networking functionalities.

      Deployment  Hypervisors (software that creates and runs virtual machines (VMs)), load balancers, network controllers, and gateways are deployed and configured on virtual machines to provide network infrastructure controls.  On top of virtualized infrastructure, various virtualized network functionalities such as firewalls, routers, and SD-WAN are deployed as software.
    Management    Throughput and policy definitions are all monitored from a centralized control console.  Virtual network functions are administered and monitored from a central location, regardless of where they are on the network.
          Costs  Personnel costs make for a large portion of overall spending. Therefore, even a slight reduction in operating expenses can save substantuial costs. Automation of network configuration, additions, and changes, help in reducing operational costs.  VNFs minimize the requirement for specialized network hardware for each unique network function by running on high-performance servers in data centers. This enables the utilization of lesser space, electricity, cooling, and equipment.
      Flexibility  Scripting or management consoles are used through programmable interfaces to enable the creation of new network devices and reconfiguration of devices.  You can instantly deploy and decommission functions, to assist proof-of-concept experiments. While, to improve network security and performance, you must locate tasks at the network edge – closer to data, applications, and users.


SDN & NFV networks share many similarities, thanks to the virtualization principle that drives their development and deployment. The main distinctions are the general network administration duties and the architectural and functional development requirements

            Scope  Defines the big picture of the entire network, such as the services, infrastructure, and available applications. Establishes network regulations that govern how network resources are delivered and used. Lower-level network functions are controlled and organized by the hypervisor.    Under the supervision of a hypervisor, delivers a range of specialized capabilities to fulfill, at all stages and levels of a network – at the edge and core.
        Standards    The Open Network Foundation aims to create many open, vendor-neutral standards for the communications interface defined between the controls and forwarding layers in SDN architecture.  Globally acceptable and adapted standards for information and telecommunications technologies relating to NFV are defined and maintained by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

SDN & NFV Networks – Working Together

Both SDN & NFV networks rely significantly on virtualization to achieve their respective capabilities. It decouples connections and packet processing from total network control (SDN) while merging and consolidating specialized operations and capabilities on common hardware parts (NFV).

SDN & NFV networks are complementary technologies, with NFV handling many services in a software-defined network. SDN in networking is concerned with the control plane. In contrast, NFV is involved with the primary network services that manage data flows. The increased use of network functions virtualization is one of the primary factors facilitating SDN adoption.

For example, the orchestration of mobile network services – Mobile operator networks are now using a mix of SDN and NFV networks to provision lead times. This is owing to the benefit of being able to separate their application logic. Efficient orchestration of services and dynamic resource utilization are key solutions to vendor challenges of overall platform performance. Thus, resulting in shorter lead times.

Thus, the features of SDN & NFV networks complement one another and function well in support of a Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) paradigm. Implementing SDN concepts without virtualizing network functions, for example, would bind the network to the hardware.

This goes against the essence of SDN, which relies on software-based network intelligence. Hence, it’s a good idea to leverage the benefits of both in one network.

Benefits of Implementing SDN and NFV

Companies can get greater benefits from virtualizing their network environment by using virtual machines. They can build the most sophisticated networks within data centers by combining SDN & NFV networks. So, what are its benefits?

  • It’s less expensive because of lower hardware requirements.
  • You can avoid vendor lock-in, as you need not buy dedicated hardware because virtualized network services can run on common commodity hardware.
  • SDN and NFV networks are more secure because the administrator can set security settings for all components from a centralized control panel.
  • It can be automated, so there’s no need to dispatch a technician to a router’s or other network component’s physical location.
  • Everything is managed through a single control panel. Only the most offline duties, such as restoring a damaged physical network, are assigned to specialists.
  • It’s easily scalable, as you can add more VNFs to handle increased network traffic.
  • Costs are lowered owing to lesser investment in hardware and associated costs. This implies – there is no need to purchase physical equipment, deliver it, and withdraw it from the network. It only takes seconds to add or remove a component from the environment.
  • It’s simple to monitor—from a single control panel; the administrator can get a clear picture of the complete network topology and manage it more effectively.


Integrating SDN & NFV networks will become crucial to gaining a competitive advantage and reducing operating costs. It is feasible to employ SDN technology without NFV and vice-versa. However, because the technologies are complementary, adopting them separately limits the benefits that a company can reap.

Upgrade your Network with Techwave

At Techwave, we have expertise in SDN and NFV. Our analysis of potential virtualization solutions includes potential solutions for head-end devices such as CMTSs. Our focus is rapid prototyping with SDN toolkits.

We define a roadmap, architecture, and requirements for the wide network adoption of virtualization. We continuously develop our expertise in SDN and NFV through research and engineering projects so that our customers get future-proof solutions that take advantage of the latest thinking. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can help you with our unique solutions and services.