COMET News - October 2014

By: Jesse Cryderman

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is white hot, as the technological concept promises to replace purpose-built proprietary networking gear with commercial off the shelf (COTS) systems that can be dynamically configured to perform network functions. In a rare turn of events, communications services providers (CSPs) are driving the demand for NFV with increasing pressure on the vendor community. According to a recent Infonetics survey, 93 percent of CSPs have plans to deploy NFV.

However, although ETSI has published a framework for NFV and preliminary NFV specifications, there are many pieces left out, as we’ve reported in Pipeline. The prevailing logic is that the market landscape will be characterized by numerous NFV orchestration engines from several major vendors or vendor groups. This might be changing.

As we were going to press, the Linux Foundation announced a major twist in the NFV story that might blow open the whole proprietary comms infrastructure model. Literally.

The Linux Foundation has founded the Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV), a carrier-grade, integrated, open source reference platform intended to accelerate the introduction of new products and services in the NFV environment.

“Open source code has been proven to accelerate innovation and time to market for new technologies,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. “The Open Platform for NFV will bring together providers, cloud and infrastructure vendors, developers and users alike to define a new type of reference platform for the industry, integrating existing open source building blocks with new components and testing that accelerates development and deployment of NFV. We are excited to host this important industry initiative that will provide a common foundation for the future of networks.”

Excitement is the right word. Just take a look at thecompanies that are already on board: Platinum-level founding members include AT&T, Brocade, China Mobile, Cisco, Dell, Ericsson, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Juniper Networks, NEC, Nokia Networks, NTT DOCOMO, Red Hat, Telecom Italia and Vodafone. Silver-level founding members include 6WIND, Alcatel-Lucent, ARM, Broadcom, CableLabs, Cavium, CenturyLink, Ciena, Citrix, ClearPath Networks, ConteXtream, Coriant, Cyan, Dorado Software, Ixia, Metaswitch Networks, Mirantis, Orange, Sandvine, Sprint and Wind River.

"OPNFV is an unique initiative which brings all these elements together, where Operators, Service Providers, Vendors and the Open Source community join hands together to deliver an open reference platform for NFV," said Dr. Hiroshi Nakamura, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Core Network Development Department, NTT DOCOMO, Inc. "DOCOMO has been at the forefront of faster service rollout and cutting-edge network platform deployment. DOCOMO will lead the OPNFV to create the foundation of emerging NFV ecosystem across industries."

At the outset, OPNFV project objectives are as follows:

  • develop an integrated and tested open source platform that can be used to investigate and demonstrate core NFV functionality;
  • include proactive participation of leading end users to validate that OPNFV meets the needs of the end user community;
  • contribute to and participate in relevant open source projects that will be leveraged in the OPNFV reference platform;
  • establish an open ecosystem for NFV solutions based on open standards and open source software; and
  • promote OPNFV as the preferred open reference platform.

OPNFV is not going to be a standards development body, per se, but will work closely with ETSI’s NFV ISG, among others, to drive consistent implementation of standards for an open NFV reference platform.


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