What are Virtual Network Functions (VNFs)?

What are Virtual Network Functions (VNFs)?

Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) are virtualized network services running on open computing platforms formerly carried out by proprietary, dedicated hardware technology. Common VNFs include virtualized routers, firewalls, WAN optimization, and network address translation (NAT) services. Most VNFs are run in virtual machines (VMs) on common virtualization infrastructure software such as VMWare or KVM.

VNFs can be linked together like building blocks in a process known as service chaining. Although the concept is not new, service chaining—and the application provisioning process—is simplified and shortened using VNF technology.

VNFs can help increase network scalability and agility, while also enabling better use of network infrastructure resources. Other benefits include reducing power consumption and increasing security and available physical space, since VNFs replace physical hardware. This also results in reduced operational and capital expenditures.

Virtualized Network Functions diagram