Virtualization delivers efficiencies and creates new capabilities, while expanding the network cloud and blurring boundaries at the network edge. In the initial wave of virtualized functions and appliances, demonstrating that software-based infrastructure could be as robust as its hardware equivalent has been a paramount concern. Recent developments in data plane acceleration technologies, including SmartNICs, are playing an important role in meeting and exceeding performance requirements. Going forward, as services expand to meet opportunities, especially in the evolving network edge, the challenge will be to narrow the gap between performance and manageability. A Next-Gen Cloud model promises to minimize those trade-offs.