As schools near completion of their E-Rate filing for this year, one game-changing E-rate technology has the potential to save schools precious time and money. The technology–a new network design concept called Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)–allows schools and other organizations to replace their current network hardware such as routers and firewalls with a single, multipurpose device—while moving the “brains” of the network to a central software console.

This emerging network model offers a number of potential benefits to users, including less hardware and cost, simplified management and greater flexibility to deploy new services. When bundling Ethernet service with virtual routers, schools may be able to use Category 1 E-rate benefits to achieve significant savings.*

How does NFV Save Schools Time and Money?

 1. NFV provides less equipment, more functionality: NFV uses virtualization technology to decouple network devices from the software that powers them. With NFV, network functions go from being on limited hardware to virtual functions, creating limitless possibilities for networks. The bottom line is transitioning from lots of equipment to one box.

2. NFV makes management easier: Hardware devices (usually from different vendors), such as routers, firewalls, and WAN accelerators, each require unique skill sets to configure and manage. When changes are required, they must be made manually, box by box, often across multiple facilities and locations—a time-consuming, cumbersome, expensive process that can be subject to errors. But what if you could deploy any combination of these functions on one general-purpose device? And, what if you could configure and manage these functions through a single, centralized software program? That’s the thinking behind NFV technology.

“I see Network Functions Virtualization as an important part of the future of education networks, as a part of an overall shift to cloud services and simplification of network management tasks,” said Marie Bjerede, Project Director for the Consortium for School Networking’s Smart Education Networks by Design initiative.

(Next page: Another way NFV saves money; E-Rate eligibility information)

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