The Status of NFV Interoperability
Although there are many initiatives that are targeted at network functions virtualization (NFV) testing, interoperability between NFV platforms still has a long way to go.
In fact, right now much of the NFV testing is focused on making sure each virtual network function (VNF) that is supposed to replace physical appliances can operate at scale on the existing NFV platforms.
But there are a lot of groups that are trying to change this by developing testing tools. For example, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has plugfests events specifically for NFV interoperability. And CableLabs has a subsidiary named Kyrio that has an SDN/NFV testing lab.
There’s also the University of New Hampshire that has an interoperability lab that provides testing services for a fee. And there are many test equipment vendors that are also in the mix such as Spirent and Ixia.
But while these test initiatives do add value, each NFV platform running in a production environment is very different from any other. And that means that NFV vendors have to validate NFV compatibility in production environments multiple times.
However, NFV interoperability isn’t just a problem because there is so much testing that is required. It also is hindered by the lack of available software engineering talent. Service providers, in particular, do not have a lot of software engineers that can handle NFV interoperability. These companies, which have always been focused on deploying hardware, are now finding that it’s taking them longer than expected to virtualize their networks because of this talent shortage.