Deploying service functions, SFs, is an essential action for a network provider. However, the action of creating, modifying and removing network SFs is traditionally very costly in time and effort, requiring the acquisition and placement of specialized hardware devices and their interconnection. Fortunately, the emergence of concepts like cloud computing, SDN, and ultimately NFV is expected to raise new possibilities for the management of SFs with a positive impact in terms of agility and cost. From a telco viewpoint these concepts can help to both reduce OPEX and open the door to new business opportunities. In this article, we identify how téleos can benefit from the abovementioned paradigms, and explore some of the aspects that still need to be addressed in the NFV domain. We focus on two major aspects: enabling telco infrastructures to adopt this new paradigm, and orchestrating and managing SFs toward telco-ready cloud infrastructures. The technologies we describe enable a telco to deploy and manage SFs in a distributed cloud infrastructure. In this context, the Cloud4NFV platform is presented. Special attention is given to the way SFs are modeled toward cloud infrastructure resources. In addition, we explore the ability to perform service function chaining as one of the fundamental features in the composition of SFs. Finally, we describe a proof of concept that demonstrates how a telco can benefit from the described technologies.
Magazine: IEEE Communications Magazine