Are CNFs, VNFs?

The answer is yes. Our recent report “The VNFO – Ripe for Change” says this loudly and clearly.

Pardon the atrocious image. But I hope it encapsulates the dilemma appropriately.

It is important to reiterate the reasons for including containers under VNF and in essence, Kubernetes under VNFO.

Both VMs and containers are virtualization methodologies. Thus, network functions synthesized using VMs and containers qualify as VNFs.

In VNFs orchestrated by containers are sometimes referred to as cloud-native NFs (CNFs). Insight Research has also employed this term as early as 2020. Over time however, we have observed that the usage of CNFs is neither consistent nor uniform.

Most ‘traditional’ MANOs such as ONAP, OSM and all proprietary offerings now support containers and Kubernetes. Containers are thus one more means towards achieving the end-objective of VNFs.

In such situations, Insight Research finds it more appropriate to use VNF as an umbrella term and under this term, refer to VM or container as the specific virtualization methodology.

The question then arises – where would we slot NFs orchestrated by containers encapsulated in VMs? Answer is containers. Similarly, NFs orchestrated by VMs encapsulated in containers are slotted under VMs.

Kaustubha Parkhi, Principal Analyst – Insight Research


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