Network Function Virtualization (NFV) brings a cloud service automation paradigm to demand-driven elastic flexing of infrastructure resources. However, it is essential to characterize the impact of hardware and virtualization options on the virtual network function (VNF) performance and load on underlying infrastructure.
We present a VNF characterization case study with an open-source VNF platform, Clearwater. We demonstrate that VNF characterization is vital for optimizing VNF performance as well as efficient utilization of infrastructure resources. We use the lessons learned from this case study to design and implement a VNF characterization framework, NFV-VITAL, to automatically instantiate VNF based on user preferences and available resources. We demonstrate how NFV-VITAL can automatically identify optimal configurations under different workloads with Clearwater and the Snort and Suricata intrusion detection systems.