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What's the difference between NFV automation and NFV orchestration?

NFV automation is the ability to transfer manual network configuration to technology; NFV orchestration creates the deployment and automation blueprint.

NFV automation and NFV orchestration have overlapping and interrelated capabilities, which are essential to the deployment of virtual network services. Both automation and orchestration are part of the critical management, automation and orchestration, or MANO, layer. The lack of MANO standards has hindered network functions virtualization deployments by many leading service providers.

NFV automation

NFV automation is the ability to standardize processes that reduce operational costs by shifting the task of network service deployment and configuration from people to technology. For example, various network services -- like prioritization, routing and security -- that are required by an application can be automatically provisioned.

Another NFV automation example process enables compute and storage resources, like servers, containers or virtual machines, to run specific applications, like virtual network functions (VNFs). To implement NFV automation, many operators will leverage SDN controllers, which can detect changes in traffic flow and select the path data takes through a network based on parameters that include application type, quality of service and security rules.

NFV orchestration

NFV orchestration is the process of automating the deployment and provisioning of multiple network software components. Orchestration creates a deployment blueprint for a specific service or services. These services can include the following:

  • Service delivery automation;
  • Provisioning of required resources; and
  • Physical and virtual resource management.

Orchestration enables operators to service chain a number of VNFs in conjunction with physical network elements to deliver a service to business or consumer customers. Orchestration provides for the VNF configuration, provisioning and chaining, and for scaling dynamic and elastic services. 

Next Steps

Facing the NFV orchestration challenges

A deep dive into NFV orchestration

These three advances are helping NFV deployment

This was last published in February 2017

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How does the lack of standards for NFV orchestration affect your ability to deploy NFV?
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