Open NFV: The World Cup of Confusion?
What's as topical as World Cup soccer this summer and, to me at least, sometimes as hard to follow?
That would be the growing significance of open source in the NFV space, no question. But who exactly is driving the open source bus? That may be as hard to determine as the exact moment that a soccer game will end.
You see, a number of folks are vying for the prime spot in the driver's seat of open source NFV, and by "folks," I mean organizations as well as individual people.
The global service providers that launched NFV chose European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) as the vehicle for that effort, and those same companies seem to have designated the Linux Foundation as home to the Open NFV process. (See Will Carriers Step Up to Open Challenge? and Is Open Source the New De Facto Standard?)
The success of that process, however, will depend on whether those same large service providers buy into the OpenNFV, and whether they can drag the major software and hardware vendors along with them.
A number of those vendors are incorporating open source into their own solutions and at least talking about being "open," for what that's worth. The TM Forum is working on extensions of its existing network management frameworks and service definitions, although it has yet to find a central role for its work in the overall process.
Even Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is getting in on the act (although in a significantly different way), offering to share its work in developing network configuration data and network topology models with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) for open comment and development leading to standardization. (See Google to Open Key Network Models for Industry Comment, Standardization.)
Meanwhile, there are efforts afoot elsewhere: CIMI Corp. President Tom Nolle unveiled another one today, with his ExperiaSphere architecture. Interestingly, Nolle contacted the Linux Foundation in advance of his announcement to pursue possible sharing, but says he didn't get a response. (See Analyst Unveils Open Source Model for NFV-SDN Management.)
He also briefed the leadership of the ETSI group and of the Open Networking Foundation , and says he did find interest there. It would not surprise me to find some elements of Nolle's work popping up early in the OpenNFV discussion.
The general goal remains the same for everyone involved: figure out how to apply open source to the serious challenge of managing and orchestrating virtual networks so that ultimately, NFV and SDN can live up to their potential as faster and more efficient providers of services.
I suspect that if I get to write a "what I did with my summer" essay in September 2014, it will be all about tracking the movement of NFV/SDN into the open source space. If you have thoughts to share on destinations I should pick on that journey -- and by destinations I mean people to whom I should speak -- please share.
Oh, and if you have thoughts about the benefits of "stoppage time" in international soccer, please keep them to yourself. By the end of the World Cup, I'll either understand it or stop caring.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading