NFV Interoperability: A New Approach

by | June 25, 2018
NFV Interoperability: A New Approach

The hype around Network Function Virtualization (NFV) may have dissipated in the past few years, but it’s safe to say it’s not going anywhere. In fact, NFV has made some significant progress. While the adoption is driven by support of cloud-centric networking, one thing that is lacking is the operational impact.

With the pros and cons of adoption becoming clear, here’s how the current state of NFV Interoperability boils down to a couple of primary issues:

  • VNF standards are plentiful, which is not a good thing. With multiple standards bodies putting forth their approach, and each vendor deploying multiple flavors of each VNF, a varied ecosystem covering many technologies greatly increases the complexity involved with interoperability.
  • Every new VNF an operator adds to their network also adds a set of management tools. Each vendor’s approach frequently involved the need to use their tool stack for for their group of VNFs. This adds yet another layer of complexity due to duplication of components such as VNF managers, NFV Orchestrators, and sometimes even VIMs (especially when you consider VM versus Container-based VNFs).
  • Lastly, there are no less than 9 different groups working on VNF testing standards at this time. This, along with the various VNF technical standards, has resulted the complete loss of VNF portability that was promised in the early days of NFV. This is compounded by the lack of technical expertise in a software-based approach and the DevOps methodology that comes with it on operator teams.

Luckily, there’s an answer to this interoperability conundrum.

Itential realizes that the issues above are reality and aren’t going to solve themselves. As such, we believe in an approach that accepts that these issues exist and provides a platform that mitigates them, instead of adding to them as many other solutions end up doing. This approach focuses on:

  • Leveraging the APIs of the multiple management tools to provide a single UI for NFV management
  • Federating data from the multiple systems and the network itself to provide visibility across the disparate components
  • Layering intelligent automation across those to consolidate management of the entire NFV ecosystem
  • Providing all of the above in a low code environment that doesn’t require development expertise to create new automations

The NFV ecosystem is at a critical juncture as the technology vision the market has been discussing becomes reality. Cloud-native VNFs and many of the MANO related challenges from the last few years are being solved. The next challenge will be to realize the promise of virtualization through the maturation of automation and operations.

To dig into more detail on the state of NFV, check out our eBrief, “The Status of NFV Interoperability” on SDxCentral.

Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore currently serves as the Director of Network Automation Strategy at Itential where he has responsibility for managing the delivery of services to implement network automation for clients leveraging both Itential products and custom developed solutions.

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