NFV Opportunity Weaves Telecoms and IT Ecosystem in Togetherness

Giving a clear indication of how virtualization is driving confluence of telecoms, networking and IT, the Linux Foundation, has announced the founding of the Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV).

OPNFV will be a carrier-grade, integrated, open source reference platform intended to accelerate the introduction of new products and services.

Platinum-level founding members include AT&T, Brocade, China Mobile, Cisco, Dell, Ericsson, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Juniper Networks, NEC, Nokia Networks, NTT DOCOMO, Red Hat, Telecom Italia and Vodafone. Silver-level founding members include 6WIND, Alcatel-Lucent, ARM, Broadcom, CableLabs, Cavium, CenturyLink, Ciena, Citrix, ClearPath Networks, ConteXtream, Coriant, Cyan, Dorado Software, Ixia, Metaswitch Networks, Mirantis, Ooredoo, Orange, Overture Networks, Sandvine, Sprint and Wind River.

“Open source code has been proven to accelerate innovation and time to market for new technologies,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. “The Open Platform for NFV will bring together providers, cloud and infrastructure vendors, developers and users alike to define a new type of reference platform for the industry, integrating existing open source building blocks with new components and testing that accelerates development and deployment of NFV. We are excited to host this important industry initiative that will provide a common foundation for the future of networks.”

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) are part of the overall industry shift towards network and application virtualization. Together they are expected to dramatically change the networking landscape, allowing providers to deliver new services to their customers more quickly while significantly reducing both operating and capital expenditures.

These technologies bring both cloud computing and Information Technology (IT) capabilities and benefits into the telecom industry, enabling new levels of flexibility and business growth opportunities for providers. Service provider applications have different demands than most IT applications, so an open platform integrating multiple open source components and ensuring continuous testing for carrier-grade service performance is essential to this transition.

OPNFV will establish a carrier-grade, integrated, open source reference platform that industry peers will build together to advance the evolution of NFV and ensure consistency, performance and interoperability among multiple open source components. Because multiple open source NFV building blocks already exist, OPNFV will work with upstream projects to coordinate continuous integration and testing while filling development gaps.

OPNFV is expected to increase performance and power efficiency; improve reliability, availability and serviceability; and deliver comprehensive platform instrumentation. The initial scope of OPNFV will be on building NFV infrastructure (NFVI) and Virtualized Infrastructure Management (VIM) leveraging existing open source components where possible.

While not developing standards, OPNFV will work closely with ETSI’s NFV ISG, among others, to drive consistent implementation of standards for an open NFV reference platform. When open source software development is aligned with standards development, it can root out issues early, identify resolutions and become the de facto codebase, resulting in a far more economical approach to platform development.

Board officers for OPNFV include:

•Prodip Sen, board chair (HP)
•Margaret Chiosi, president (AT&T)
•Wenjing Chu, secretary (Dell)
•Hui Deng, treasurer (China Mobile)

Why NFV is important today?

Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is the replacement of custom hardware running network functions by virtual servers running on a cloud platform on commercial, off-the-shelf hardware. It allows telecom and data center operators to build software-centric networks much faster, leading to increased velocity in the creation and deployment of new features for their customers. It also reduces both capital and operating expenditures on network functions.

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) are part of the overall industry shift towards network and application virtualization. Together they are expected to dramatically change the networking landscape, allowing service providers to deliver new services to their customers more quickly while significantly reduce both operating and capital expenditures.

These technologies bring both cloud computing and Information Technology (IT) capabilities and benefits into the telecom industry, enabling new levels of flexibility and business growth opportunities for providers. Service provider applications have different demands than most IT applications, so an open platform integrating multiple open source components and ensuring continuous testing for carrier-grade service performance is essential to this transition.

Who will be the end users of OPNFV?

The initial end-users will come from the network service provider community, including founding members of OPNFV – AT&T, China Mobile, NTT DOCOMO, Telecom Italia and Vodafone, among others. Additionally, it will also target enterprise segments to participate, as their needs for NFV overlap. Examples include the financial services industry, large enterprises and cloud service providers.

How much will be the membership for OPNFV?

OPNFV has two categories of membership in the form of Platinum membership, which is $200,000 a year for vendors and $100,000 year for end users and Silver membership, where the fees vary by size of company but range from $10,000 – $50,000 a year. However, there is no Gold category with OPNFV today.