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Virtualisation moves into telecoms, NFV work enters phase 2

Posted: 06 Oct 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:virtualisation? NFV? network? telecoms?

Editor's Note: As wireless traffic continues to grow and services become more sophisticated, communication service providers are moving away from hardware-based solutions and towards virtualisation for a more reliable infrastructure. Netronome's Nabil Damouny talks about ETSI's NFV group, what it has done so far, and the work it is currently doing to address the role software-defined networking within the NFV framework.

Driven by 40 global carriers and 220 participating organisations, the ETSI's network functions virtualisation (NFV) group has published six documents so far. They include an overall framework, target use cases, requirements, and standard terms.

The documents do not provide detailed specifications, but they refer to specs developed by other bodies and to potential specifications, which, in the group's opinion, could be usefully developed by an appropriate standards organisation.

Recently the NFV group released 11 final drafts for open review and comment, targeted for publication by December 2014. For example, the infrastructure overview discusses the architecture to support virtual network functions, including applications such as load balancing, intrusion detection, and firewalls. It provides an overview of the key elements of the compute/storage, the hypervisor, and the underlying network.

The compute document includes descriptions of the network and I/O interfaces required for infrastructure and storage networks, as well as the hypervisor. A hypervisor document discusses the requirements for the hypervisor, including a required interface to an orchestration and management system, allowing loading and monitoring of virtual machines.

Another document lists service quality metrics. These metrics cover service impairments such as latency or quality of experience, as well as quality risks.

The group is working on these 11 documents to ensure they are consistent in how they use terms and describe functions. The group also wants to make sure applications are grouped in ways that let carriers deploy software from different vendors on the same hardware to form a service chain.

The NFV group decided to extend its efforts two more years for a so-called NFV Phase 2. New work includes addressing the role of software-defined networking within the NFV framework, defining use cases, and proof of concepts. Other jobs include exploring the need for hardware acceleration for specific use cases and applications to meet service-level agreements.

A key goal from the NFV community has been to identify gaps not addressed by current standards bodies or open source projects. For example, the OpenStack project addresses the interface between the infrastructure manager and the orchestration layer, but there may be a need to define extensions to OpenStack to better manage the underlying NFV infrastructure.

The Open NFV consortium may address the need for such extensions. Its charter is to define end-to-end solutions using current standards and open source projects.

- Nabil G. Damouny
??Senior Director, Business Development, Netronome

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