New IP


Network functions virtualization might arguably be the hottest trend in the industry right now, but that doesn't mean that everything NFV touches turns to gold – just ask the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) .

In November 2015 the industry organization, which represents vendors, announced its intention to set up and run an NFV lab where the industry could "demonstrate, market and sell NFV and Software Defined Networking (SDN) solutions." The lab, said the TIA, would be "launched in early 2016" and provide a "vendor-agnostic, open environment" for the testing of "product capabilities and interoperable features."

But there have been no further announcements during the past seven months and, according to industry sources close to the TIA, the NFV lab initiative has failed to attract industry support and has been shelved. Several industry executives told Light Reading that outreach and information about the lab had dried up and one industry executive, speaking to Light Reading on condition of anonymity, said the proposal was too similar to existing NFV interoperability initiatives that were already underway.

That reference is undoubtedly to The New IP Agency , the not-for-profit industry body that began its engagement with the NFV community in the middle of last year: The NIA has already completed and reported on several independent NFV evaluations and interop tests that have met with broad industry approval. (See EXCLUSIVE! NFV Interop Evaluation Results, Deep Dive Into the NIA's NFV Interop Test, Pics: Crowds Flood NIA Demos at BCE, Lucky 13 Sign Up for NIA's Next Interop and DT Has High Hopes for the NIA.)

(Disclosure: Light Reading helped to launch the NIA and continues to be affiliated to the association.)

For more NFV-related coverage and insights, check out our dedicated NFV content channel here on Light Reading.

Light Reading called and emailed the TIA's CTO, Franklin Flint, who joined in April 2015 from Dell and who is the lead TIA executive linked to the NFV lab and received this response by email: "TIA is committed to advancing NFV solutions on behalf of the ICT industry. We have shifted our current focus in response to overwhelming interest from our membership to address concerns about NFV security. TIA has formed an NFV Security Working Group, which is analyzing the issues and developing industry-lead solutions to mitigate the concerns buyers have with NFV technologies."

That would appear to be confirmation that the NFV lab idea has been shelved, though a further question seeking absolute clarification on that issue has not yet yielded a response.

There's no doubt, though, that there's a strong need and demand for NFV interoperability and capability testing from all corners of the virtualization community. More than 20 vendors have signed up to join the NIA and participate in independent evaluations, supported by a growing number of network operator members: Just recently Orange Business Services and Laser Light Communications have become members of the agency. (See Optical Satellite SDN Service Provider Laser Light Joins NIA, BCE 2016: How NIA Can Help With NFV, NIA Replacing 'Old Standards Bodies,' Says Cisco and Colt Exec Joins NIA Board.)

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

brooks7 7/12/2016 | 10:18:18 AM
Re: Timing and ecosystems are key Ray,

Waiting for anybody is a waste of time.  The last thing required in NFV is both standard bodies and external test labs.  The thing required is a development team that makes something.  Your statement about the importance of either standards bodies or external test labs to validate components is what I disagree with.  You have to just pick and go in this world.  Every choice you make will have both positive and negative attributes.  Waiting for perfection is going to be an infinite wait.  

The new world is you pick your vendors and open source projects and code around the limitations.  

What I am saying is that these bodies are an utter waste of time.  My existence proof is the IT industry which works this way.  Most every appliance is available as software on VM.  All of them are imperfect and yet the world goes on.  So, I would say that NFV is a problem solved by another industry 10 years ago and the telcos are sitting on their hands waiting.  If they want NFV, then buy some VMware or use Xen and get started.  That is what the companies that they are trying to catch up to did some time ago.


[email protected] 7/12/2016 | 7:00:42 AM
Re: Timing and ecosystems are key Seven

you say you disagree, but I'm not sure what you are disagreeing with.

you say:

"build something and try it out!  Prototype a service and test it."


I agree! And that process is made much simpler and more efficient if you know you are building something with components that you already know will work together. The whole point of a body such as the NIA is that it can help speed things up and aggregate the interop testing so that service/app development teams can have a greater chance of building something that will work.

brooks7 7/11/2016 | 9:58:44 PM
Re: Timing and ecosystems are key Ray,

I strongly disagree with that.  The last thing you need is yet another body to slow things down.  Here is an idea (and what worked in the IT world - unless you don't think servers are VFs in the Network), build something and try it out!  Prototype a service and test it.  The more you wait for others to do stuff the more behind you get the IT world.

mendyk 7/11/2016 | 5:08:53 PM
Re: Odd choice Interesting -- and it cries out for some follow-up on how TIA members -- i.e., the people paying to keep that organization going -- feel about the pullback.
Infostack 7/11/2016 | 5:06:40 PM
Re: Odd choice Read between the lines.  Whenever they pull out the "security" card it means that they want to try to slow the evolution down.  Why?  Well, let's just say they've always liked their silos.
[email protected] 7/11/2016 | 12:05:21 PM
Timing and ecosystems are key Delivering trustworthy, independent evaluations of critical virtualization capabilities is abolsutely kjey to the advance of NFV -- and that's an incredibly tough thing to pull off successfully.  

Timing may not be everything but it's incredibly important... along with the support of an ecosystem and the skills/capabilities to perform valid and appropriate tests. 

The introduction of cloud/virtualization to te communications networking sector is going to shake up, and shake out, the industry in many ways. Let's see how this plays out...

mendyk 7/11/2016 | 12:01:52 PM
Odd choice Given the very early stage of NFV deployment, it's odd that TIA would put the brakes on its effort so quickly and focus on one specific area (albeit an important one). I wonder how TIA's members feel about the decison.
Sign In