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Why Independent NFV Interop Tests Need to Go a Step Further

Robin Mersh

The results of the first ever NFV infrastructure interoperability evaluation, published by Light Reading last month, reflected those collected in the Broadband Forum's recent webinar and reinforced the Forum's long-held belief that interoperability is as vital now as ever. (See EXCLUSIVE! NFV Interop Evaluation Results.)

Interoperability has been a key issue in mass broadband deployments and that doesn't go away with the development of NFV and SDN. In fact, it becomes even more important, as these new technologies open up the probability of hybrid networks comprising static and programmable elements.

As the NFV evaluation process highlighted, it is often assumed that if all developers base their NFV infrastructure on, for example, OpenStack, then this eliminates the need for standardization. The results, however, showed that this is not the case. (See Light Reading Publishes Unique NFV Interoperability Test Report.)

The need to highlight and deal with such misconceptions will be vital if the next-generation hybrid broadband ecosystem is to be deployed successfully. A mix of existing, static network technologies and new programmable, virtualized networking and computing elements will introduce an additional layer of complexity: The introduction of virtualization technology into a network populated by legacy equipment will not be straightforward. Consequently, interoperability within an NFV ecosystem is not enough -- our industry needs to establish and enable interoperability and management capabilities in hybrid networking environments.

Today's users are increasingly demanding seamless, transparent connectivity everywhere and performance-assured services, adding to network pressures but creating potential new revenue streams for service providers through demand for new applications. The results of our audience poll during the webinar emphasized that seamless connectivity and performance-assured services were among some of the most important areas to address in the industry, with just under a third (28%) of participants stating their company was working on ultrafast wireline infrastructure service and 20% working on performance-assured IP broadband services. Furthermore, 29.7% of respondents noted that seamless wireline/wireless connectivity services was the most important use case for the development of new business opportunities. (See High-Value Services for Broadband Enabled by NFV and SDN.)

How service providers begin to realize this potential is exactly what the Broadband Forum 's recently announced Broadband 20/20 vision aims to address. Virtualization undoubtedly provides a platform for new value by giving service providers the capability to launch dynamic new services, but before this can happen the service definition attributes of the compute, network and storage elements need to be agreed and defined in order to ensure interoperability and to help create the testing programs required to enable quality of service. (See What the Broadband Forum Did Next.)

Under the Broadband 20/20 vision, rapid deployment of new services into the Connected Home is key, with work on a Network Enhanced Residential Gateway due to be completed very soon. This work is all about developing a hybrid environment, including virtualized functions and services, whilst protecting existing revenue-generating services. And we're confident that such work can help accelerate the delivery of ultra-fast, high-value services over hybrid broadband networks.

— Robin Mersh, CEO, Broadband Forum

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[email protected],
User Rank: Blogger
1/18/2016 | 9:14:29 AM
Test cases to the power of n
INterop tests between NFVi. VNFs and legacy equipment -- that's a lot of permutations.

Best get started then, eh?
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