Virtual CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) is one of the fastest growing NFV applications. Through the virtualization of CPE appliance, managed service providers can save the time and cost from the complexity of handling multiple dedicated hardware-based equipment connected at the customer/branch site to provide the needed services, which often results in frequent truck roll service costs and troubleshooting remains headache. With vCPE, managed service providers can optimally assist their clients, especially SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) and branch offices, in cost efficiencies and service agility by leveraging VNF (virtualized network functions), such as routing and firewall, onto a multi-service gateway device. Managed services have thus become dynamic when network functions are software-defined, allowing more simplified and agile management.

Centralized Mode

In the centralized implementation, vCPE is used as a VNF (virtualized network functions) and is implemented on a carrier-grade computing hardware appliance in service provider data centers. The carrier appliance will run as router, firewall, VPN and all other network related services. For instance, in the diagram above, VNF is implemented within

Distributed Mode

On the other hand, there are carriers who prefer their applications in the distributed manner. In the distributed approach, vCPEs are deployed based on customers’ premises. For certain communication service functions, the NFV infrastructure is better as distributed geographically and hierarchically in order to optimize resources and efficiency. For instance, in telecom and broadcasting fields, the traffic today is occupied not only by voice and photos, but also video and audio contents that come in much larger file size. This will further limit the bandwidth in a centralized NFV. Therefore, a distributed, multi-hierarchy NFV where many vCPEs are distributed geographically based on customer premises, could benefit certain industries by offering network offloading during the streaming, more-distributed authentication and traffic routing to a closer peer point to reduce latency.

Hybrid Mode

Some operators may mix both centralized and distributed infrastructures for their specific applications. In that case, provisioning and management of vCPEs and VNFs are critical as most of the virtual CPEs are based on open source software, such as Open Stack or Open Switch.

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