In its next work phase, the influential NFV group within ETSI will tackle some thorny issues, including defining key interface specs for different vendor gear to interoperate, and determining how future virtualized networks will interact with legacy operations and billing support systems.
Those issues are among the key goals outlined in a white paper released today by 30 of the network operators involved in the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV ISG, which launched the entire network functions virtualization movement within telecom carriers two years ago. (See Operators Set Course for NFV's Future and Carriers Collaborate on Network of the Future.)
The operators ultimately envision a "telecommunications cloud" that combines aspects of NFV and SDN in a flexible "cloud of clouds" environment. It will be built on a stacked architecture that will encompass different network orchestrators, cloud operating systems and hypervisors, and will be highly dynamic in its ability to scale automatically in support of applications and in the way it allocates resources.
The white paper, which is available here, is intended to provide the operators' perspective on the ETSI NFV ISG's work thus far and what they see as the major themes for the group's continued work. Drafts of what the ETSI NFV ISG has planned are already available on its website and specifics will be finalized in November at its plenary session in Arizona.
By continuing to weigh in as a group of operators, however, the 30 companies involved in this white paper are keeping the NFV focus sharply on the practical aspects of bringing virtualization to today's networks, and solving their real-world problems sooner rather than later. These include the need to bring services to market more quickly, to more efficiently use precious network resources and to automate back-end processes.
The paper identifies interoperability, support for layered architectures, interaction with legacy OSS/BSS and definition of new service models and how they will streamline operations processes as top priorities for the next round of work.
It goes on to provide an overview of the key documents that the ETSI NFV ISG will release in January, including those that address: NFV Infrastructure and its components; Management and Orchestration, commonly known as MANO; Software Architecture; Reliability and Availability, Performance and Portability and Security.
Interoperability is a key aspect of NFV, the white paper notes, to encourage a multi-vendor environment to develop. Achieving interoperability will require the ETSI NFV ISG to establish well-defined interfaces between the key components of the NFV ecosystem, to include:
- Orchestrator and Virtual Infrastructure Manager (VIM)
- Orchestrator and the Virtual Network Function Manager (VNFM)
- VNFM and Virtual Network Function (VNF)
- VNF and Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI).
A layered architecture becomes important so that NFV can support a hierarchy of orchestrators, operating independently in support of service deployments set up for multi-tenant use, such as cloud services. The ETSI NFV ISG needs to analyze and then clearly state how these orchestrators need to interact.
A substantial portion of the white paper was devoted to operational issues, signifying how these remain both important and tricky for NFV going forward, even as the operators acknowledged that some of this work remains outside the scope of the ETSI NFV ISG. There needs to be clear definition of how NFV infrastructure interacts with legacy OSS/BSS and how those systems need to evolve to support virtualized networks, the white paper notes.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading