The CloudNFV project, which intends to show that network functions virtualization (NFV) and cloud computing are inexorably linked, is now describing how software-defined networking (SDN) has to be included as well.
The group might have a more global viewpoint than that of other initiatives such as the OpenDaylight Project. But it also indicates how complicated the world might get if operators or enterprises try to apply NFV and SDN across multiple, incompatible networks.
CloudNFV was launched this month by analyst Tom Nolle of CIMI Corp. and six vendors. Their goal is to produce an NFV prototype, partly to discover what problems might arise as the technology comes to life.
And one thing the group has concluded is that with so many new initiatives being thrown at the network, there’s no avoiding the fact that they overlap.
Splitting NFV from Quantum
The template for doing that is something CloudNFV is calling Infrastructure Services, and the underlying idea is that OpenStack doesn’t have all the pieces to make NFV truly effective.
“There’s been a tendency to look at this as entirely a Quantum problem — that OpenStack is going to drive all this change,” Nolle says.
At the same time, the Infrastructure Services idea patches up a shortcoming of SDN — namely, that SDN is only about connectivity, he says.
Nolle describes Infrastructure Services in three pieces:
- Putting everything in a box. SDN can connect multiple virtual machines that combine to make up a service. But it doesn’t provide things like Domain Name System (DNS) or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) capabilities that an operator might also need along with that connectivity.OpenStack does recognize the need for such things, so CloudNFV is developing a mashup of the two. When a service is built, CloudNFV will aim to treat the connectivity and the hosted features as one structure.There’s a philosophical parallel there to what Embrane can do with its heleos platform.
- Supporting more types of networks. Specifically, OpenStack Quantum was crafted without regard to the tree or private-line network topologies common in telecom. CloudNFV’s technology will be able to bypass or extend Quantum’s provisioning, in order to create these kinds of structures, Nolle says.
- Mixing provisioning platforms. If a network mixes, say OpenDaylight and Quantum implementations, which model would be used to provision a particular service? CloudNFV has found a way to tell the network which provisioning formula should be applied for a particular interface. Take the idea a step further, and it could be used to provision services in a network built of multiple vendors’ equipment.
All these developments are aided by an ongoing relationship with the TeleManagement Forum (TMF), Nolle says.
About That Prototype…
Nolle is hoping the group can get a demo done sometime in August, with a public announcement and demo coming possibly in October.
CloudNFV still hasn’t disclosed its members (other than Metaswitch, which joined as the first non-founding member). Nolle expects them to be revealed in August.