During the most recent Mobile World Congress in February 2016, there were a few primary themes that Mobile Network Operators (MNO) and leading-edge vendors (including F5) were discussing. These were the Internet of Things (IoT) and that the network evolution toward 5G and NFV will essentially lay the foundation to support the 50 billion devices that are being predicted to be connected to global networks. 

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is changing the paradigm of how MNOs need to re-architect and evolve their networks. MNOs need to think about how they can build out a flexible and agile network to handle unexpected spikes in traffic or spin up instances of an Application Delivery Controller (ADC) or a DNS service, or even Firewall services, instantaneously. To do this requires that these types of services are completely virtualized and are running on COTS hardware platforms, allowing them to be instantiated at any time. It also requires that these virtual network functions are integrated with existing Management and Network Orchestration systems (MANO)--so that the moment they see the requirement to spin up a new service, they can do so seamlessly.

Mobile Operators also require a network that will allow them to introduce new services faster to market and do this in a cost-efficient manner. A primary use case that MNOs are looking at deploying is Virtual CPE (Customer Premises Equipment). In this use case, MNOs give the visibility and control of deploying network services to the enterprise. In essence, enterprises, via a portal, can provision new services at any time, and within a matter of minutes, have services up and running at their location. As an MNO, what would typically take days to provision for a new service, including time and costs associated with expensive truck rolls to the enterprise site, is now eliminated, significantly reducing OpEx costs for the operator.

To ensure success for MNOs who are transitioning their networks to NFV, they need to look to vendors who can not only provide them with a full breadth of L4-L7 network services, but also vendors who support and are part of a complete NFV ecosystem, including working and interoperating with leading management and orchestration systems to ensure a seamless experience evolving to NFV.

F5 is a leader in providing a complete portfolio of L4-L7 network services, including ADC, FW, DNS , Policy Management, CGNAT and Diameter / SIP Signaling solutions (for Virtual IMS / EPC use cases). F5 solutions, both virtual and the high-performance purpose-built hardware, leverage the same TMOS operating system, ensuring that operators can support a hybrid network architecture with certain functionality residing on hardware while moving others to a virtual environment. F5 solutions can be deployed within strategic parts of the network, including the Gi LAN, IMS , EPC, and data center.

To learn more about F5s portfolio of VNFs and the NFV ecosystem, and see how F5 can help you realize the benefits of NFV and evolve your network architecture to a virtualized network, we invite you to visit: www.f5.com/nfv

In addition, F5 was recently included in the latest SDxCentral 2016 Mega NFV report, https://www.sdxcentral.com/reports/nfv-vnf-2016-download/, available for you to download.

Please also visit us at NFV World Congress, from April 19–22 in San Jose, CA.

During the event, we will have demos of our Virtual CPE use case, which has been deployed at a major operator in APAC. In addition, Mallik Tatipamula, VP, SP Solutions, will be presenting on Securing Virtualized 5G Networks on April 20 at 4:30 p.m. Mallik will also be participating in a Technology Panel debate forum on April 20 at 5:30 p.m.