January 15 – 18 , 2017, Dagstuhl Seminar 17032

Network Function Virtualization in Software Defined Infrastructures


David Hausheer (TU Darmstadt, DE)
Oliver Hohlfeld (RWTH Aachen, DE)
Diego R. Lopez (Telefonica I+D – Seville, ES)
Bruce MacDowell Maggs (Duke University – Durham, US)
Costin Raiciu (University Politehnica of Bucharest, RO)

For support, please contact

Dagstuhl Service Team


Dagstuhl Report, Volume 7, Issue 1 Dagstuhl Report
Aims & Scope
List of Participants


Network management currently undergoes massive changes towards realizing more flexible management of complex networks. Recent efforts include slicing data plane resources by using network (link) virtualization and applying operating system design principles in Software Defined Networking (SDN). Driven by network operators, network management principles are currently envisioned to be even further improved by virtualizing network functions which are currently realized in dedicated hardware appliances. The resulting Network Function Virtualization (NFV) paradigm abstracts network functions from dedicated hardware to virtual machines running on commodity hardware and enables a Cloud-like network management. All of these efforts contribute to a softwarization of communication networks.

This softwarization represents a significant change to network design and management by allowing the application of operating system design and software engineering principles to make network management more efficient, e.g., by enabling flexible and dynamic service provisioning.

Since the NFV efforts are currently mainly driven by carriers and standardization bodies, academic research is decoupled from the industry driven NFV attempts in redesigning network management. Due to this missing link to academic research, opportunities for groundbreaking research and broad impact in academia are currently missing out. This Dagstuhl Seminar thus gathered researchers from academia, industry, and standardization bodies to establish this missing link by fostering collaborations and joint research initiatives. Thus, a particular focus of the seminar was on identifying the diverse connections between industry driven NFV efforts and current academic networking research.

The seminar brought together 24 participants in January 2017 to discuss a potential NFV research agenda within 2.5 days. The program included different invited talks that provided an overview on selected aspects of NFV and lightning talks by each participants to provide first research questions and to sketch research directions. We summarize each talk in the remainder of this report. The main focus of the seminar was then the in-depth discussion the research areas identified in the lightning talks in several breakout sessions, which we also summarize. We closed the seminar by collecting and discussing several opinions from each participant: (i) lessons learned and surprises on NFV during the seminar and (ii) open research questions. We further collected controversial statements on NFV research and asked the seminar participants on whether they agree or disagree to each presented statement. We summarize the outcomes at the end of the report.

Summary text license
  Creative Commons BY 3.0 Unported license
  David Hausheer, Oliver Hohlfeld, Diego R. Lopez, Bruce MacDowell Maggs, and Costin Raiciu


  • Networks


  • Network function virtualization
  • Software-defined networking
  • Flexible network management


In the series Dagstuhl Reports each Dagstuhl Seminar and Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop is documented. The seminar organizers, in cooperation with the collector, prepare a report that includes contributions from the participants' talks together with a summary of the seminar.


Download overview leaflet (PDF).

Dagstuhl's Impact

Please inform us when a publication was published as a result from your seminar. These publications are listed in the category Dagstuhl's Impact and are presented on a special shelf on the ground floor of the library.


Furthermore, a comprehensive peer-reviewed collection of research papers can be published in the series Dagstuhl Follow-Ups.