Many service providers have deployed network function virtualization (NFV) software but few have the tools in place to orchestrate and manage NFV software from multiple vendors. To foster interoperability, a series of initiatives and services have been launched to help organizations determine what NFV software is compatible with a specific management and network orchestration (MANO) platforms.
Here is a list of some of the NFV interoperability initiatives:
- ETSI has launched a series of “plug-fest” events as part of its role in defining standards for the telecommunications industry. Participants include nearly 30 leading vendors.
- Canonical has launched a VNF Performance Interoperability Lab that is an extension of the interoperability work is performs for the OpenStack community.
- CNLabs has developed a series of NFV interoperability test programs.
- CableLabs’ subsidiary Kyrio has an SDN/NFV interoperability lab available to all network operators and equipment vendors.
- The University of New Hampshire has an Interoperability Lab that is organizing plugfests and providing testing services for a fee.
- Spirent provides access to a suite of NFV and SDN testing services as part of its professional services offerings.
- IXIA has worked with partners to create a suite of NFV interoperability tests that organizations can employ to test both performance and portability.
- The New IP Agency (NIA) and EANTC have published the results of a series of NFV interoperability tests.
- Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei, and Nokia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create the NFV Interoperability Testing Initiative.
Plus, vendors that have made major investments in MANO platforms for NFV environments are also validating NFV interoperability across their platforms. HPE, for example, has an OpenNFV partner program through which it tests and validates NFV interoperability.
Are all these NFV interoperability testing programs necessary? According to Barry Graham, senior director for agile business and IT for TM Forum, a service provider association focused on promoting digital business, these programs are a symptom of a bigger challenge, which is the difficulty organizations face when deploying NFVs.
Graham says the TM Forum is working to define a set of de facto application programming interfaces (APIs) that its members would implement. Those APIs, says Graham, will go a long way to promoting NFV interoperability without having to wait for vendors and standards bodies to work out some sort of compromise.
“We’re trying to create industry interoperability,” says Graham. “Our goal is to create a proven de facto standard.”
Service providers, notes Graham, need that interoperability to achiever 5G networking goals. Graham says 37 percent of its members have deployed NFV but very few of them are orchestrating it in a unified way.
Like most emerging technologies NFV adoption is a journey. But given the rate at which service providers hope to roll out 5G services over the next three years it’s already clear the pace at which that journey is progressing needs to pick up.