IEEE Internet Computing

Network Function Virtualization

Final submissions due: 1 March 2016
Publication issue: November/December 2016

Guest Editors: Kaustubh Joshi and Theophilius Benson (

Call for Papers

Network function virtualization (NFV) — the practice of decoupling network hardware and software to allow network services to run on commodity cloud computing-style platforms — is a transformational vision that has taken the telecommunications industry by storm. Much in the same way it did for traditional IT, the hope is that NFV will foster innovation in the telecommunication industry by enabling faster deployment of new services with less risk.

This should allow iterative improvement of existing services, broadening the developer ecosystem to include new entrants, and reducing network cost structure through infrastructure reuse and automation. Additionally, incorporating compute and storage resources in the guts of the network enables a rethink in what constitutes the user-network interface beyond a “bit pipe”—from store-and-forward and content distribution services, network-based Big Data analytics, and sensory data aggregation services for domains such as the Internet of Things (IoT), to content-centric networking.

However, behind this grand promise also lie significant challenges. Unlike traditional IT services, network functions are incredibly I/O-intensive and straddle the boundary of real-time systems, both of which are areas where current virtualization technologies are weak. Latency, jitter, loss, and throughput in virtualized data planes, especially in a multitenant setting, are still lacking. Existing network functions are still far too dependent on scale-up as opposed to the scale-out model best supported by the cloud. And finally, the levels of geographical distribution needed to support network services (thousands to tens of thousands of sites) are beyond the realm of today’s cloud management approaches designed to support tens of sites.

What are the hardware and software architectures that can address these issues? How can the network control plane and data plane evolve to address the challenges of virtualization while benefiting from the flexibility it provides? What techniques can the networking community leverage from distributed systems to build resilient scale-out network functions? What new services are enabled by NFV? How can we improve existing network services?

To respond to such questions, we seek papers from both industry and academia that encompass various aspects of NFV. Topics include, but are not limited to, the following topics surrounding network function virtualization infrastructure (NFVI):

  • security concerns;
  • performance benchmarking;
  • QoS and performance isolation on a multitenant cloud;
  • innovations in I/O virtualization and data plane design;
  • software switch design and architecture;
  • container-based architectures;
  • programmable network hardware (such as P4);
  • specialized hardware’s role (GPUs, field-programmable gate arrays, and so on);
  • resource allocation (virtual machine scheduling and orchestration);
  • software-defined data centers;
  • edge cloud and micro-sites;
  • virtualization of cellular infrastructure; and
  • virtualization of on-premise equipment;

Also of interest are topics surrounding virtual network functions (VNFs):

  • VNF metrics;
  • software-defined networking’s role in NFV;
  • new paradigms for routing and naming;
  • virtualization challenges for VNFs;
  • distributed systems principles and techniques for VNFs;
  • new services enabled by NFV;
  • NFV for IoT;
  • NFV for Big Data network analytics;
  • NFV for content distribution; and
  • NFV for content-centric networking.

Submission Guidelines

All submissions must be original manuscripts of fewer than 5,000 words, focused on Internet technologies and implementations. All manuscripts are subject to peer review on both technical merit and relevance to IC’s international readership — primarily practicing engineers and academics who are looking for material that introduces new technology and broadens familiarity with current topics. We do not accept white papers, and papers which are primarily theoretical or mathematical must clearly relate the mathematical content to a real-life or engineering application. To submit a manuscript, please log on to ScholarOne ( to create or access an account, which you can use to log on to IC’s Author Center and upload your submission.