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NFV Takes Center Stage for TM Forum

Carol Wilson

Network functions virtualization (NFV) will be front and center at this summer's TM Forum Live, formerly known as Management World. As many of six of the event's 13 Catalyst projects incorporate some aspect of NFV, according to preliminary project selection. (See TM Forum Renames Annual Event.)

That's a far cry from 2013 Management World in Nice, France, where NFV was a minor consideration. The dramatic change likely reflects the growing realization that NFV and its virtualization twin, software-defined networking, will have a significant impact on network operations and billing support systems.

Catalyst projects are short-term collaborations among TM Forum members, sponsored by service providers and including hardware/software vendors (and sometimes enterprises), to tackle real-world problems. The projects result in demonstrations at the Nice event.

Ken Dilbeck, vice president of strategic programs for the forum, told us the Catalyst list is still tentative at this point, but he believes all six of the projects preliminarily accepted will be in Nice, unless there are issues with the named participants. At least two of those projects have also been accepted as proofs of concept by the ETSI NFV Industry Specifications Group, which pioneered the NFV effort.

One of the accepted proposals came from CloudNFV . The project, sponsored by Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), will model a network management and orchestration solution that will show how a single model can orchestrate southbound (to control infrastructure) and northbound (to manage the OSS-BSS process) and make it event-driven, said Tom Nolle, an industry analyst, president of CIMI, and chief architect of CloudNFV.

The CloudNFV group was also invited to make a presentation at an NFV workshop just prior to TM Forum's Action Week Feb. 10-14 in Madrid.

The CloudNFV idea is to show operators how to build services by combining virtual functions and traditional networks and managing those through OSS/BSS management systems, totally new management systems, or a combination of the two, Nolle said. The group essentially straddles the ETSI NFV ISG, which doesn't reach into overall network management, and TM Forum, which doesn't address deployment of virtual network functions.

Dilbeck said TM Forum's ultimate goal is to help network operators manage the transition from traditional OSS/BSS systems to more flexible network operations that incorporate and take advantage of virtualization. The group is working with the ETSI NFV ISG in an informal way and is encouraging all its Catalyst project organizers to pursue proof-of-concept status with that organization.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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User Rank: Lightning
1/23/2014 | 5:02:49 PM
NFV ISG Welcomes TMF Catalyst Efforts
The TMF has been very pro--active to engage the NFV ISG and to understand where they can add value to the industry effort towards NFV leveraging their body of work. We held a joint workshop with them in October just before our Santa Clara plenary which led to an agreement to cooperate around their Catalyst programme. Management and Orchestration are important elements of an NFV deployment and we are very keen to see practical learning through Proof of Concept implementations according to the NFV PoC Framework. We are looking forward to seeing the results of the TMF inspired PoCs and the learning points they discover. Don Clarke - NFV ISG Network Operator Council Chair.
User Rank: Light Beer
1/23/2014 | 10:44:56 AM
Re: Well, OK...but....
Great piece, Carol and thanks to you and Ray for keeping the whole industry honest on NFV.

The Forum is deadly serious about NFV. Now that a lot of the foundations are in place thanks to the work of the ETSI ISG members, we're working closely with a diverse range of members on the broader management system impacts. In addition to this impressive set of Catalysts, we're looking closely at the challenge of the radical overhaul needed of OSS/BSS systems to really get the most out of the opportunities NFV enables. 

Expect to see a lot more in the coming months as we race towards TM Forum Live in June.
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/22/2014 | 2:53:49 PM
Re: Well, OK...but....
We started our CloudNFV activity in April of last year, and the TM Forum was working with us almost from the start.  We've had cooperation from the leadership and participation from some of the Fellows in the work.  I think the TMF is at least as interested in NFV as the NFV ISG is in overall service management.  The question both bodies are likely facing is how much of "NFV" can be truly independent of the larger management context, and for that which cannot be, who defines it?  We had our first PoC call on Monday and we had operator questions on TMF data models on that call.  That shows how elastic the boundaries are here.
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
1/22/2014 | 2:10:24 PM
Re: Well, OK...but....
Ever the cynic, Ray. 

Should they have renamed the Nice event, 'TM Forum Live and We Get NFV!'?
User Rank: Blogger
1/22/2014 | 2:08:14 PM
Well, OK...but....
SO the Catalysts are all over NFV - but is the TMF??
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