Mobile traffic is experiencing phenomenal growth with the rapid adoption of smartphones, tablets, and Internet of Things–type devices across the globe and is expected to grow 45 percent annually through 2021. To handle this growth efficiently, networks need to be transformed in the way that they are built and operated.
The ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group (ISG) has created an architectural framework to evolve networks to bring automation, flexibility, agility, and operational simplicity to infrastructure and network services by using virtualization, software-defined networking (SDN), and cloud technologies with commercial off-the-shelf hardware and by fostering open ecosystems around NFV concepts.
Flexibility and interoperability
The NFV architecture provides unprecedented flexibility in the sourcing of components such as compute, storage, network, virtual infrastructure manager, and virtual network functions. But this flexibility also results in several interoperability challenges. Some of the components in the NFV architecture can be fulfilled by open source projects such as OpenStack, OpenDayLight, and ONOS but some of these projects lack carrier-grade functionality in areas such as service-level agreement (SLA) enforcement and fault management, and they also require enhancements and integrations. Also, there are several open source options available for each component, which further complicates the integration issues.
Network modernization and OPNFV
The open source Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) project has been created to address these complex issues and aims to provide a carrier-grade, integrated, open source platform to accelerate the introduction of new NFV products and services. OPNFV was launched in September 2014 and gained tremendous traction within a short time. It has now more than 55 organizations as members and more than 150 committers and contributors. There are more than 10 labs around the world covering development and test cases on various hardware and software configurations. There are also around 40 incubated projects in OPNFV that are covering requirements and new functionalities targeted specifically for service providers in modernizing their networks and integration and testing projects that test common use case scenarios.These projects provide the rich functionality necessary for NFV deployments, and also help to ease integration, rapid deployment, and the creation of high-quality products.
Open source collaboration
Ericsson and Cisco are collaborating together along with the open source community to bring best-in-breed technologies such as Service Function Chaining and Group-Based Policies into OPNFV. OPNFV is a community effort addressing the NFV transformation challenges by leveraging open source technologies to validate the key NFV concepts and use case scenarios through development, integration, and testing efforts and to pave the path for a successful NFV transformation.
We have explored this in depth in a report co-written with Cisco called: OPNFV: NFV system integration and development as an open community effort. Please download it and then join the conversation.