LF Networking, GSMA Align to Goose NFVi Efforts
The Linux Foundation’s LF Networking arm is partnering with industry trade association GSMA in the development of a common NFV Infrastructure (NFVi) framework. The move is targeted at aligning efforts that have so far been fragmented across the industry.
The work is centered on the Common NFVi Telco Taskforce (CNTT) that was referenced at the recent Open Networking Summit (ONS) event. The task force is hosted by GSMA, with LFN providing input and access to testing and verification processes.
The task force will work with service providers to define and create virtual network function (VNF) reference architectures for NFVi. This will include a global reference model, architecture, and VNF certification lifecycle. That common reference architecture will be submitted to LFN for testing and verification through its OPNFV Verification Program (OVP).
Arpit Joshipura, general manager for networking, automation, edge and IoT at the Linux Foundation, said that LFN will bring the software, automation, tools, and infrastructure testing through its OVP Program “that will actually set up the framework to implement the common NFVi.” Its members will also offer up the necessary upstream and downstream code that includes virtual infrastructure managers (VIMs), Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), and VNFs “to create a complete end-to-end automated test system.”
NFVi is part of the NFV architecture that describes the hardware and software components on which virtual networks are built. It typically works with servers – virtual or bare metal – and the software, hypervisors, virtual machines (VMs), and VIMs to enable the physical and virtual layer of the network.
GSMA, which is best perhaps best known for putting together the annual MWC event in Barcelona, Spain, has been working on virtualization efforts with its operator members for several years.
The CNTT group claims their partnership will reduce the time and costs associated with operationalizing VNFs, provide for the ability to anticipate VNF technical requirements, and bring telecom operators into the innovation loop.
“Having an NFVi framework was a great first step but bringing the community of major carriers together in a neutral governance like the Linux Foundation was required,” Joshipura said.
Bridging the NFVi Gap
Joshipura noted that a common NFVi architecture has existed for a few years but the implementation was unique across vendors, carriers, and the ecosystem. Some have noted the fragmentation was caused by vendors having to choose between using OpenStack or VMware as the basis for their efforts. That decision has now grown to include work around the Kubernetes container orchestration ecosystem.
Joshipura said that LFN has been working to harmonize with standards developing organizations (SDOs) like GSMA and ETSI. This includes the recent release of a compliance and testing tool that allows network operators to automate for validation requirements developed within ONAP.
“We do not expect roles to change as our vision is quite complementary – create specifications in SDO organizations and implement in open source with a quick and neutral feedback loop,” Joshipura explained.
IDC estimated that NFVi-related revenues were just $564 million in 2017. But as service providers ramp up their network transformation, revenues are expected to achieve a 58.1% compound annual growth rate through 2022, reaching $5.6 billion in revenues by that year.