Working with traditional hardware-based networking elements requires the procurement then physical installation and wiring of the hardware, which could take weeks and does cost very real money in labor and truck-rolls.
Virtualizing networking functions greatly simplifies this process and shrinks the availability ramp-up time of a new networking function from weeks to literally minutes. Another advantage of a VNF vs traditional hardware-based NEs is that it can be re-cycled instantly if its functions are no longer necessary.
However, from the provisioning and management point of view, working with virtualized networking functions is more complex than working with a dedicated NE. In addition to the hardware layer, VNFs require a hypervisor level to function. And on top of its underlying OS, it has to have the necessary networking functions to efficiently support the VNF.