SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Open Networking Summit -- OPNFV was launched in 2014 to become the "glue" that knit together the diverse piece parts needed for network functions virtualization to work. With its Danube release, the open source group hits a major milestone in fulfilling that promise, delivering what it calls "a full next-gen networking stack" in one open collaborative environment with a cohesive approach to testing and deployment. (See OPNFV Issues Danube Software Release and Open NFV Group Uncloaks Its Platform Plan).
Formally, OPNFV Project Director Heather Kirksey calls this fourth software release "an evolutionary step" but informally, she comments that OPNFV is becoming the "engine room for NFV, delivering performance and ease of use for network operators and solidifying its collaborative processes with upstream organizations."
In addition, in this release, OPNFV tackled NFV performance, including data plane acceleration, and furthered its work to establish foundational support for the Management and Network Orchestration (MANO) operations.
With Danube, OPNFV delivers integration between the NFV Infrastructure/Virtual Infrastructure Manager (NFVi/VIM) and the Open-Orchestration (OPEN-O) platform -- now part of the new Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) group -- that it tested in its December 2016 plugfest. In addition, it is enabling NFVi network telemetry to be used to support use cases such as service assurance, and, in two separate projects, delivering multi-domain template support and translation features between two popular modeling languages, YANG and Tosca.
OPNFV can now enable members to test the MANO stack with various infrastructure stacks, Kirksey notes, and test use cases that require the entire stack, using actual VNF onboarding and provisioning. There are projects in the works that build on that to create standard approaches to VNF onboarding, something service providers are craving.
Also still in the works is outreach to the other major open source MANO group -- Open Source MANO (OSM).
On the data plane acceleration front, Danube represents movement forward on multiple fronts including integration of FD.io -- which stands for Fast Data input/output but is pronounced "fido," like the dog's name) -- which is a collection of projects on software-based packet processing, and the Open Virtual Switch DPDK project, a different approach to increasing throughput on the data plane.
Looking ahead, OPNFV is developing benchmarking as a service capability for service providers and vendors. "It's early days, Kirksey cautions, "but it got a lot of energy around it in this release."
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Danube also includes work done with OpenStack Gluon that she says "furthered the integration work we have been doing with OpenStack, to make the compute and network a little bit less tightly coupled so you can make easer decisions and swap in and out various network control mechanisms," such as native Neutron, Open Virtual Network with OVS or any of the existing SDN controllers.
"This is one of the things operators wanted for a while because they wanted to use their SDN piece to do a lot more of the network control bit and not to have to rely so much on Neutron, which is a little bit more of an enterprise data center tool," Kirksey says.
Danube also includes more automated testing with better test cases, and continued work on core features such as IPv6, BGP virtual private networking and more.
Tying all of this together, she says, is work around continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD).
"We are trying to get more cost-effective CI/CD that is more automated," Kirksey comments. As part of that, OPNFV started a lab-as-a-service project that creates an automated dashboard to provide real-time data around "how many things are deploying, how many are testing and failing, as courses are released. It is improving the way we work so what we do can happen faster with higher quality."
A recent internally conducted survey of OPNFV's end-user group shows some of them are using the software release in their labs, and Kirksey remains convinced commercialization is close -- so much so that OPNFV has hired a marketing person to track how its software is used commercially.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
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