Nolle, a consultant with CIMI Corp., helped create CloudNFV last spring and has been its chief architect, designing CloudNFV’s framework. But he’s concerned about the conflict of interest that will arise once CloudNFV starts offering a product — with Dell a likely seller of that product.
He still might consult with some of the companies involved in CloudNFV; he just can’t continue being the project’s lead architect. “You can’t be an analyst and run a product activity, so we always knew there was going to be a point of transition,” Nolle says.
Moreover, his work on CloudNFV has been on a volunteer basis — a personal mission, really — and he says he’s ready to go back to his regular life.
Driven by a set of service providers, the NFV initiative has moved rather quickly, taking CloudNFV along with it. In October, when CloudNFV was just six months old, carriers were already asking. “Who’s going to sell this?” and doing so with “candid, in-your-face pressure,” Nolle says.
Turning NFV into Products
CloudNFV was dreamed up in a parking lot during a break at last April’s meeting of the ETSI Industry Specifications Group (ISG) for NFV. Nolle and six vendor representatives were discussing the implementation issues that were likely to be ignored or glossed over by the committee. They banded together to work on NFV prototypes, a sure way to uncover the problems that might otherwise go ignored, especially in the area of network management.
Metaswitch had independently developed a cloud-based Internet Multimedia System (IMS) framework, which CloudNFV embraced as its first PoC-in-progress. CloudNFV has also gotten the OK to present its work at the TM Forum‘s June gathering in Nice, France.
As a product, CloudNFV software will probably end up being offered by Dell, Nolle says. The other vendors in CloudNFV are too small for the large service providers to trust as deeply as Dell. Moreover, Dell has been acting as CloudNFV’s systems integrator, offering up its labs for the task.
Although he’ll be an outside observer when it comes to CloudNFV’s specific products, he’ll probably be rooting the overall project and organization. This was more than just another project for him, and he feels a bit sentimental about leaving.
“This is going to be the last big thing that I do in my career,” Nolle told me at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress in October. “I’m 71 years old, and this is a young man’s game. I can’t expect to be doing this stuff for the rest of my life. And one of my little private motivations for this was: I’m a software architect. I’ve been doing what I do for many, many decades, and I’ve never liked the way this whole service operation stuff has worked. This is my chance to show this can be done right.”