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NFV Group Adopts 'Open' Strategy, Names New Leaders

Carol Wilson

The operator-led group that launched network functions virtualization (NFV) has named new leaders and adopted a new mission statement that reflects the growing desire among service providers to embrace open source technology.

According to an official blog report from the seventh meeting of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV Industry Specifications Group (ISG), held last week in Santa Clara, Calif., that mission statement focuses on the need to develop an open, interoperable ecosystem for NFV, and to reach out to other industry and open source organizations. (See the full blog here.)

The responsibility for adopting that new mission statement falls to the new chair and vice-chair of the ISG, Steven Wright, lead member of technical staff at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), and Tetsuya Nakamura, senior research engineer at NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) respectively.

And they'll have time to achieve the group's new goals: Originally, the NFV ISG had a two-year remit, and was set to wind down at the end of 2014. (See NFV Group Preps Its Afterlife.)

However, as expected, the group has a new lease of life. More than 300 people, including representatives from 37 operators, were at the Santa Clara meeting to witness the extension by two years of the NFV ISG's charter, taking it into "NFV Phase 2," or the "implementation phase" of NFV.

The new mission statement stresses the need for an "open, interoperable ecosystem, through specification, implementation and deployment experience," according to blog author Marc Cohn, senior director of market development at Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN).

Cohn quotes Don Clarke of CableLabs , who is Chair of the NFV Network Operators Council, as saying that interoperability is the key issue for operators.

"In the next phase we intend to intensify our efforts towards achieving interoperability for NFV, which includes normative work where appropriate, formalized dialogue with other industry and standards organizations including open source communities, and a continued emphasis on encouraging open NFV implementations and Proof of Concepts," noted Clarke.

Those comments echo recent commentary from Caroline Chappell, senior analyst with Heavy Reading , who has noted the growing sentiment in favor of a common approach to building an NFV infrastructure and developing a virtual infrastructure manager (VIM).

Chappell also notes that operators want to see open source and vendor neutral components as the key building blocks for the Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure (NFV-I) and the VIM.

Chappell has recently written two white papers, one for Telefonica and another for Brocade, in which she discusses possible common approaches.

"The idea is to accelerate the development of NFV by agreeing on a common standardized platform," Chappell says.

She compares it to using a Microsoft operating system for personal computers or a Linux OS for servers, so that software and applications developers can build to one platform, which achieves economies of scale that benefit the broader industry.

Without a "common stable execution environment" for virtual network functions and a standardized way to manage them, service providers and vendors alike are stymied in their efforts to move forward, Chappell says.

There is a significant effort underway already by the Open NFV initiative, which is being administered by the Linux Foundation . That initiative began with a meeting in June, though the parties involved in that effort aren't yet discussing progress publicly. There is also another effort to federate research labs of the carriers for cooperative research. (See Let's Federate Our NFV Labs – Telefónica, Will Carriers Step Up to Open Challenge? and Is Open Source the New De Facto Standard?)

There was discussion at last week's NFV ISG meeting about those particular efforts, which Cohn noted in his blog report. The group will be reaching out to standards bodies, industry groups and open source projects and allowing those to influence its future work.

In addition, the NFV ISG hopes to engage more with the research community and collaborate more with other parties to speed up the NFV deployment process in general, Cohn noted.

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

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User Rank: Light Sabre
8/6/2014 | 4:12:56 PM
Re: Up the MANO stack
> Thanks, Carol - Sorry - Should have said VNF Manager (a functional block in MANO) not NFV Manager (which suggested I was referring to the entire MANO layer). Doh!
User Rank: Light Beer
8/6/2014 | 4:06:56 PM
Re: Up the MANO stack
If I understand it correctly, the VIM is part of what is called the MANO layer (management and network orchestration) in the ETSI NFV reference architecture and yes, the idea is, where possible, to put use open source building blocks to enable faster creation of the underlying operations processes. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/6/2014 | 3:47:48 PM
Up the MANO stack
> The adoption of open source can only help drive NFV. It would seem that there needs to be more attention paid to the NFV Managers and Orchestration than the VIM, that OpenStack and other such open initiatives could (and do) fulfill. Or maybe template-drive orchestration using structures such as OpenStack Heat are enough to abstract (decouple) the VNFs from the management function, leveling the playing field for those without such components or orchestration partners. Without advocating being locked into OpenStack, of course.
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