CHICAGO -- Big Telecom Event -- Carriers implementing NFV are at risk of simply virtualizing the same incompatible vendor silos that network virtualization is supposed to avoid.
"If all we're doing with NFV is replacing closed boxes with software that does the same thing we haven't done anything at all," said Prayson Pate, CTO and co-founder at Overture Networks Inc. , at a panel about orchestration here Tuesday. Service providers need to ensure vendors are using standard APIs so the providers can mix and match components and not be locked in to single vendor solutions.
Nirav Modi, director of software innovations at Cyan Inc. , agreed. "It's not about creating virtualized silos. It's about breaking down silos," he said.
Axel Clauberg, VP of aggregation, transport and fixed access at Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), coined the term "orchestration zoo" at a Big Telecom Event address last year to describe the proliferation of incompatible NFV implementations, noted Caroline Chappell, principal analyst of NFV and cloud at Heavy Reading . (See Nothing Is Sacred, DT's Clauberg Tells BTE .)
Returning to BTE this year, Clauberg said, "The zoo of orchestration got worse." VNF vendors all want to bring their own orchestration solutions to vendor networks, he said.
"Somebody opened the cages and it's a jungle out there," said Hervé Guesdon, VP of engineering and CTO of UBiqube Plc . "The situation this year is worse."
Service providers and vendors need to achieve consensus. "We need to move to a platform concept," Clauberg said.
One problem with standardizing and implementing NFV is that the industry lacks even a standard definition for orchestration, Chappelle said.
The ETSI definition of NFV involves breaking apart closed applications that runs on appliances into open software that runs on standard servers. Orchestration is concerned with lifecycle management of creating virtual machines to run virtual network functions (VNFs), scaling them up and down, and managing the virtual infrastructure in a vendor neutral fashion, Pate says.
Clauberg added that open source plays a big role in ensuring that DT isn't locked in to a single vendor for the network. But open source orchestration hasn't matured. KVM provides an open source hypervisor and OpenStack does the same for cloud, but no open source orchestration meets all needs.
And the standards process for orchestration has proceeded backwards, Clauberg said. In most cases, you implement first, learn and push for standardization, but with NFV it's moved in the opposite direction. "People tried to standardize something they didn't understand," he said.