Light Reading

ETSI & ONF Hold Hands Over SDN & NFV

Mitch Wagner

The two major standards bodies driving SDN and NFV aren't going steady, but they've agreed to date and see how things go from there.

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) , which drives Network Functions Virtualization standards, and Open Networking Foundation (ONF), which drives SDN standards, this week launched a strategic partnership to further the development of NFV specifications. The two organizations have yet to form a working group, but that's the goal for Christos Kolias, senior research scientist at the Orange Silicon Valley subsidiary of Orange France , and founding member of the NFV group within ETSI. (See Defining SDN & NFV.)

ETSI and ONF plan to work together to figure out how SDN can enable "forward plane support" for some of the most important NFV use cases. The two organizations will "collaborate on the means to build dynamic, programmable Virtualized Network Function forwarding graphs," according to a statement from both organizations.

Kolias explained that VNF forwarding graphs are ETSI's name for service chaining -- connecting multiple VNF functions in sequence. Sending traffic from a firewall to a load balancer is an example of service chaining.

ETSI and ONF will also work together on standardizing security, standardizing configuring NFV functions, and standardizing the northbound interface between the SDN network and OSS/BSS systems and other applications.

In conjunction with the agreement, ONF is also releasing the "OpenFlow-enabled SDK and NFV solution brief," to showcase how operators are combining NFV and SDN to make their networks more agile.

The alliance makes sense. SDN is all about virtualizing network traffic control. NFV is about virtualizing other network operations, such as firewalls and load balancers. Looked at one way, SDN becomes just another NFV virtual function. Looked at another way, NFV functions sit on top of SDN networks. Either way, they're complementary.

More about SDN and NFV:

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to

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Gabriel Brown
Gabriel Brown,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/24/2014 | 2:54:39 PM
It is notable that they identified collaboration on the development of "dynamic, programmable forwarding graphs" (a.k.a. service chaining) as an area of focus in the release, since that involves networking (SDN) and applications (VNFs) parts. Seems like a very logical combination to me.
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/24/2014 | 5:01:13 AM
ONF's surrender?
I can't help myself (could be a problem with me), but this news leaves me with a feeling that ONF is admitting their incapability. They were able to converge on simpler, focused, technically explicit tasks (like OpenFlow specs), but they are lagging behind on harder ones (like migration or NBI).

As if they are trying to pass some hot potato stuff to ETSI now.

User Rank: Light Sabre
3/22/2014 | 8:43:05 AM
I think this is for "benefit aggregation", Dan.  Nothing happens in either space unless you can build up benefits to justify the cost and risk of change.  They probably believe it would be easier for a collective solution to do that than to have both technologies going it alone.  If the two are separated, you also have the problem of operator discomfort with simultaneous unrelated revolusions.
User Rank: Blogger
3/21/2014 | 9:42:25 PM
Do you think they are counting on, or assuming, or hoping that network operators deploy SDN and NFV simultaneously across their networks in different places? If so, that might be a lot to expect from operators.
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