Design Considerations for Branch Virtualization with NFV

In the previous blogs (Part 1 and Part 2) on Enterprise NFV Design we discussed the concept of network function virtualization (NFV), its benefits, the foundation blocks and the design considerations of branch virtualization with NFV.

In this blog, we will look at real life customer deployments that are leveraging the Cisco DNA architecture to build better customer experiences and differentiation for their businesses. Most of these customers are looking for open solutions, greater agility in IT, simplicity with installations and the ability to obtain additional insights to grow their business.

Depending on the use-case and design criteria, customers are increasingly using the customized x86 or server blade within a router option. Cisco’s Enterprise Network Compute System (ENCS) and the UCS E-Series server (which can plug into ISR 4000 Series routers), have been popular choices based on the deployment scenario. Both of these platform choices help answer the question of which hosting platform should be used to virtualize networking services hosted on NFVIS (NFV Infrastructure Software).


Straumann Group, headquarted in Basel, Switzerland, is the global leader in implant, restorative and regenerative dentistry. As a supplier to the medical industry, this customer needed a highly compliant and secure solution which could support multiple vendor technologies, without the complexity of deploying a rack full of appliances.

Olivier Jessel, Network Architect and Roland Sonder, Network Engineer for Straumann Group, were looking for an open NFV solution which would provide them the flexibility, reliability and multiple vendor technology support to consolidate their networking infrastructure from multiple appliances to a single device. It was also critical for them to manage over 50 locations with centralized automation and monitoring. They evaluated the Cisco Enterprise NFV solution and after rigorous design and testing they deployed a solution using ENFV with Cisco’s ENCS5408 platform. Straumann Group was able to run virtualized services on ENCS including Cisco’s virtualized network functions (VNFs) for advanced routing with encryption, WAN Optimization and firewall services from a 3rd party vendor. The deployment utilizes two ENCS 5408’s in most site locations for high availability and redundancy. “For us it was very critical to deploy a design which provides flexibility and choice of VNFs to be onboarded” says Olivier and they are in the process of rolling this solution out to an increasing number of locations.


Many banks, in order to extend reach to remote and mobile customers, are rolling out Mobile Branch Banking Services. We have a customer located in North America who, in order to achieve company business initiatives, needed the IT team to provide a lean solution which could increase agility and provide reliable uptime and predictable connectivity. The IT team was looking for a solution which could provide consolidation of multiple services – networking, security and banking application services into a single platform.

After testing and eliminating multiple vendors, they rolled out the Cisco ENCS 5412 running virtualized services on NFVIS, including advanced routing features, Firewall services and secure connectivity over 4G. They also leveraged the integrated switch, with PoE capabilities, to power on IP phones and access points and provide dual 4G WAN access.

Managed Services

Many Service Providers have begun offering managed services by deploying VNFs allowing them to manage and orchestrate centrally. British Telecom (BT) announced an extension of its strategic partnership with Cisco to include the launch of a new Cisco-based customer premise equipment virtualization solution which is managed by BT and Cisco’s orchestration technology is integrated into BT’s networking offerings.

Connect Edge is a new virtualized customer premise equipment (vCPE) service based on Cisco’s ENCS technology enabling network functions virtualization (NFV) for the branch. The associated virtual network functions will run via BT Connect Services Platform, BT’s new managed services solution.

In order to deploy its new virtualization offerings, BT has integrated Cisco’s Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) software platform and virtual Branch Core Function Pack into its own networks and uses network automation to deliver high-quality services faster and more easily to its customers.

This brings me to the end of the three series blog on Enterprise NFV Design and use cases. The key learnings for us have been customers would like to invest into a solution which is: highly reliable, flexible to accommodate changing network requirements, easy to deploy and efficient from an operations point of view. With Cisco’s Enterprise NFV solution, customers are increasingly deploying the solution either utilizing ENCS 5000s or ISR 4000’s with UCS E-Series plugged in to lay a strong foundation for their digital future. 

I would love to hear your additional thoughts and ideas on design recommendations and challenges in the new world of NFV. Let’s continue the conversation: @jayeshchokshi or via LinkedIn.




Jay Chokshi

Director Product Management

Enterprise Networking