Report: NFV/SDN Standards 'Myopic' on Service Management



Current standards efforts around NFV and SDN are failing to take into account what service providers will need to manage services on an end-to-end basis, once they have begun deploying virtualization, notes a Heavy Reading report out this week.

Senior Analyst Ari Banerjee observes in the first of a two-part series on "End-to-End Service Management for SDN & NFV" that standards bodies such as European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) 's NFV Industry Specifications Group are tightly focused on the service management needs of virtualized services and network functions. They are failing to take into account the most complex needs of larger service providers to "manage a complex, hybrid services world, involving a combination of virtualized and non-virtualized network resources.

"Going forward, we expect a hybrid world of virtualized and non-virtualized service that cannot be handled effectively by the simple specifications that standards bodies are currently suggesting," he says.

The risk is that NFV could spawn yet another silo of service management because virtualization will require complex end-to-end management to account for many more moving parts and the need to constantly track availability of network resources, Banerjee tells Light Reading. Or, alternatively, the customer's quality of experience could suffer in the virtualized world if service assurance isn't closely aligned with service fulfillment and real-time tracking and monitoring of network resources.

"Virtual network functions move much more dynamically," he says. That requires tracking and monitoring of real-time changes to the network on a per-application and per-subscriber level, so that virtual resources can be provisioned on the fly or a virtual machine can be moved to a higher capacity server to meet user demand as needed.

His report underscores the importance of end-to-end service management going forward if service providers are going to be able to meet the stated goals of adopting NFV such as bringing new services to market more rapidly and automating the processes that today are performed slowly by manual operations.

One critical aspect of end-to-end service management will be an orchestration layer that also spans the hybrid network and can promote convergence and the ability to manage decision-making across the network, Banerjee notes.

He describes the ETSI NFV ISG efforts to date as too limited to the virtual world, and the TM Forum 's approach as heavily focused on billing operations and support systems. But Banerjee also notes that the Forum is broadening its approach. (See TM Forum Tries ZOOMing to NFV.)

Leading vendors including Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)'s Cloudband group, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Nokia Networks are also tackling the broader scope of service management, and their work could still be brought to the standards bodies, Banerjee notes. The second part of his end-to-end service management report will look at individual vendor efforts and how close they come to addressing the broader problems.

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

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