NFV Woes Could Be Fixed With Service Models, BT Suggests
AUSTIN, Texas -- Big Communications Event -- BT thinks the problems in NFV interoperability would be best solved by adopting common service models, and it's got at least 36 that it would be willing to contribute to the industry as a start.
BT's Neil McRae, chief network architect, brought up the idea during the New IP Agency board meeting held here yesterday, as Light Reading Founder Steve Saunders relayed in today's BCE keynote. He also noted that the NIA could serve as a repository for these service models.
McRae had brought in the idea as an alternative to the NIA's initial plan of standardizing a crucial API in the NFV infrastructure. (See Together, We Can Build the Telecom 'App Store'.)
"Standardizing APIs -- I think that's an impossible task," McRae tells Light Reading. "If we get the service model right, I don't have to worry about my OSS/BSS integration being compatible with someone else's. I just talk to them at the service level."
Service models, built using the TOSCA and YANG languages, provide high-level descriptions of services. As in the case of APIs, the idea would be to hide the specifics of a service behind an abstraction layer, making it simpler for, say, a different vendor's product to plug into a particular service.
The service models BT has been developing include broadband services, routing, firewalls and even back-end services. Some of the models are very simple; others, such as the G.FAST model, proved complex to build, he says.
Service models and data models have been part of the NFV discussion all along. The industry hasn't yet standardized on specific service models, though -- partly because these models can vary from carrier to carrier.
McRae thinks having a common, base-level service model would make life easier for telcos by standardizing the drab, ordinary parts of a service. Carriers could still fine-tune the services to their liking, and they could also differentiate in the way they stitch services together, he says.
He sees an advantage on the customer-facing side too. "Rather than telling them about NFV bits and pieces, you're talking to them about how you're going to deliver this service."
BT has been sharing some of its service models already, but others still need time to mature. "We're a bit Picasso in that we don't want anybody to see the picture before we've finished it," McRae says.
Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading