NFV Specs/Open Source

OPNFV Promises More Powerful Platform

With its second software release, named for the Indian river Brahmaputra, the OPNFV is flexing its muscle as an organization, showing off not only more robust capability for testing NFV use cases and functionality but also key feature enhancements. The biggest takeaway, however, is a more robust platform that can take in the work of diverse upstream groups in the virtualization space and a much larger development community, moving forward more quickly.

Those key features include such things as the ability to spin up and configure Layer 3 virtual private networks, support for IPv6 and its testing, and initial service function chaining using OpenDaylight's Beryllium SDN controller. But Heather Kirksey, director of Open Platform for NFV Project Inc. , says the platform capabilities and the cementing of the organization's processes to handle code from multiple upstream groups and do massively parallel testing are the things that mark the biggest step forward.

"We've shown as a project that we can bring in NFV-related features that are relevant to the ecosystem and test them at a functional and system level and that we can do that working with multiple upstream groups looking at multiple features, and building up processes and platforms to create that foundation for growth," Kirksey tells Light Reading in an interview.

That ability to work with multiple upstream groups has become even more important as the management and network orchestration or MANO space within network functions virtualization gets a little more diverse with the launch in February of two new open source groups, OPEN-Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O) and Open Source MANO Community (OSM) . The former shares Linux Foundation roots with OPNFV, but there have been conversations with both about collaboration, says Chris Price of Ericsson, technical chair of OPNFV. (See OPEN-O Focused on Orchestrating SDN & NFV and OSM Demos First Steps to Open Source MANO.)

He notes that OPNFV added MANO to the scope of work in late 2015, and with this software release is showing its ability to provide context for work with a broad range of groups. To date, that includes OpenStack , OpenDaylight , OpenContrail, ONOS and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) .

There are some industry concerns that a bifurcation of work around the MANO could make things harder for service providers and technology vendors. But Price says that OPNFV is able and ready to work with both groups as the first "speaking partners" to address this specific area. "We can now start to talk about how these interfaces [to the MANO] are going to be leveraged, what are the use cases that we see coming across them," and based on that OPNFV can begin to set up its automated validation processes, he says.

Brahmaputra also cements OPNFV's ability to work with a rapidly growing number of developers at the scale that requires, Kirksey notes. More than 165 developers and 30 accepted projects contributed code to this second platform release.

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The release is different in that it is being done in three stages, or software "drops," using Agile development techniques to continuously improve the software over the course of the next two months. "We won't be adding code but as features get more stable, they will be released," Kirksey says. That process enables more features to be include in Brahmaputra.

Among the other specific feature enhancements are improved fault detection and recovery capabilities through work in OpenStack Neutron and Ceilometer and work with Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) 's Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) and resource reservation via a shim layer on top of OpenStack. In addition, Brahmaputra features data plane acceleration and enhancements Open vSwitch and KVM, which is the virtualization infrastructure for the Linux kernel, that improve the NFV performance and throughput.

The release also delivers system-level testing and multiple testing frameworks and methodologies, which is important for the scope of the work ahead, Kirksey and Price note. These capabilities include The Yardstick Project, which does the baseline testing outline in the ETSI specifications.

"This is about more, more, more on every vector," she comments. As the community grows, the platform can now take on more upstream groups, integrate more massively parallel testing and validation efforts, and offer a more stable working process as well.

For example, Brahmaputra supports additional SDN controllers and installers, such as OpenStack Liberty and OpenDaylight Beryllium, and continues to focus on doing whatever it takes to make the deployments carrier-grade, Price says, since its origins are in the service provider community.

"We don't pick winners and losers," he comments. "We do work with what our community members bring us."

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

jbtombes 3/4/2016 | 5:59:00 PM
Interop Venue Also interesting that once their third software segment drops in a couple of months and this big river is ready for testing, they're going to do it at CableLabs. Maybe those facilities are opening up more to 'outside' testing events. Or is NFV technology no longer so far outside of what's on the MSOs' roadmaps?
jbtombes 3/3/2016 | 4:01:48 PM
Big River That's more of a Bangladeshi than Indian river, but it's a big one. All the better to handle those upstream communities. Nine, I'm counting, plus the two new ones: OPEN-O and OSM.
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