OPNFV's Euphrates Sails Toward Cloud-Native Shores

Open source group OPNFV is taking a big step forward in the cloud-native direction with its latest release, Euphrates, announced today at the Open Network Summit Europe event in Prague. The release also brings to the fore more practical tools for real-world network deployments. (See OPNFV Starts Cloud-Native Trek With Euphrates.)

This fifth software release integrates Kubernetes and containers and the cross-community continuous integration (XCI) capabilities launched earlier this year, and delivers a pre-tested set of interoperable open source Network Functions Virtualization components that are the key pieces of a commercially deployable NFV-Infrastructure. On top of that are new test automation and performance tools for delivering "carrier-grade" reliability, says Heather Kirksey, director of the Open Platform for NFV Project Inc.

That's all a reflection of the fact that the integrated component stack on which OPNFV has focused is now actually moving into commercial deployment, she tells Light Reading in an interview.

"There are people out there with versions of these stacks -- OpenStack, Open Daylight, FD.io and DPDK -- on hardware that aligns with our hardware so basically, these integrated components are out there, whether or not companies are packaging and selling them as OPNFV from a project labeling perspective," Kirksey says. "This is becoming mature to the point where I think things are production-ready."

Euphrates marks major strides toward the cloud-native capabilities network operators say they want. Kirksey notes the architectural support OPNFV has built in around Kubernetes integration, alongside the support provided by some of the upstream components such as FD.io and OpenDaylight and the ability to do containerized OpenStack via Kolla, all advance the cloud-native agenda of fast, scalable, vendor-neutral deployments.

"We are able to deploy containerized OpenStack, which enables easier management of OpenStack," she comments. "Containers and Kubernetes are things that have been talking about being up for a while but we are seeing that being realized. The Kubernetes integration was a ground-zero requirement. We have laid the foundation and now it is up to us to start to see some cloud-native apps that we can start to run on there and do the infrastructure."

In combination with that is the XCI process, which enables a DevOps style of working with code across multiple communities so that, instead of always waiting for stable releases, it's possible to integrate OpenStack, FD.io and OpenDaylight and then get a daily feedback loop on any bugs or performance issues, then direct back into the community immediately, Kirksey says.

The other advantage of the push toward cloud-native is that it will lead OPNFV in the direction of edge computing, she adds.

"At the edge, you are thinking about devices with smaller capabilities than within the data center so certainly, support of lightweight control planes is important," Kirksey says. "One of the things I would like to see us do going forward is to start getting in some hardware that starts to look at what the service providers think they might have at the edge. Our test program right now is in a very data center-centric type of environment."

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Rounding out Euphrates are some practical carrier-grade features and enhanced testing and integration capabilities. OPNFV has integrated the new Calipso project, and can provide new operational visibility into virtual networks.

"There are a couple of aspects to that -- one is the front end so we have integration with [Calipso] and the other is continuing work on what telemetry you need to be able to pull out of your infrastructure and that is where our Barometer and Doctor projects have been focused," Kirksey says. "So enabling the ability to get information and then feed it into various service-assurance and network modeling -- in the future, we would see that fitting into something like ONAP as well, with some of the various dashboards with ONAP."

Closer integration work with ONAP is likely to pick up after that open source group issues its first software release later this year, she says. Integration work should be part of ONAP's second release, to be dubbed Beijing, and OPNFV's Fraser release next year.

The enhanced testing and integration capabilities in Euphrates include new tools for testing the NFV cloud as well as individual VNFs and network services. There are two new projects in that space, Sample VNF, which tests the VIM and NFV-I layer and NFVBench which is and end-to-end benchmarking framework.

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

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