SAN JOSE, Calif. — Linux Foundation Networking (LFN) today released a compliance and testing tool that enables network operators to automate for validation requirements developed within the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP).
With relatively few open source projects doing validation and testing, the move is akin to the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) growing up to include virtual network function (VNF) compliance testing in conjunction with the ONAP community, explained Heather Kirksey, director of OPNFV at LF Networking.
The move also marks a change for how network compliance and verification was done in the past, she said in a phone interview. “We’re really trying to do more agile development” and the group plans to continuously improve and add more testing capabilities. “We’re continuing to advance this compliance and validation effort with the idea that there’s still a lot more we want to do.”
Getting the OPNFV Verification Program (OVP) into the hands of carriers is an important step in that journey, Kirksey explained. The expanded program is also interoperable with ONAP-based onboarding requirements based on Heat and TOSCA packages and combines testing for multiple parts of the NFV stack.
By creating automated test suites to validate and qualify for network deployment, LF Networking aims to help operators improve the quality of their code, reduce costs and accelerate deployment.
Interoperability is Critical
“If the idea is that open source enables you to build a best-of-breed stack and have more flexibility in your vendor model as opposed to a monolithic system from one vendor,” the interoperability component is critical, Kirksey explained.
“People are developing variants based on the open-source component,” she said. “Things the telecom industry is really used to like performance, verification, and validation, we’re working to figure out how to marry those with open source fundamentally.”
The goal of OVP is to help the ecosystem align better around unified deployment models and improve interoperability between various software and hardware, Kirksey explained. “We’re building this new ecosystem together and it’s going to be a long journey that we’re on to get the transformation of the network itself, and the back office, as well as the applications.”
While some carriers are getting sophisticated in the areas of open source for network automation, particularly around NFV and SDN, others are still treating software the same way they treat hardware, Kirksey said. “We haven’t really gotten the full gains that we want to get out of this transition.”
5G Drives Momentum
However, 5G is quickly becoming an organizing and focusing commercial event in the ecosystem. “5G is one of the first big things we’re seeing deployed with this technology,” Kirksey said.
Early adopting operators have hired in-house talent and re-skilled workers for this transition, but the shift of mind to automation, applying DevOps principles and a implementing continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) platform is still the most difficult challenge for operators at large, she explained.
“That really is the more difficult challenge, to have your [network operations center] people get comfortable with the idea that you’re going to do small updates to the network infrastructure all the time, the way hyperscale companies treat all their infrastructure,” Kirksey said. “It’s a challenging concept to really wrap one’s head around and it’s in different stages of sophistication.”
OVP enables operators to perform testing in house or use third-party labs like the University of New Hampshire-Interoperability Lab, which is the first OPNFV verified lab.
The Linux Foundation, which acts as an umbrella for LF Networking and other open-source projects, also announced the creation of the O-RAN Software Community (O-RAN SC) with the O-RAN Alliance at the Open Networking Summit. O-RAN SC will provide an open source software application layer for radio access networks and will foster the development of an open-source infrastructure platform for 5G, Arpit Joshipura, general manager of networking and orchestration at the Linux Foundation, explained in a blog post.
The organization also announced momentum on Linux Foundation Edge (LF Edge), a project that aims to establish an open, interoperable framework for edge computing. New blueprints from Akraino Edge Stack and four new members are set to debut at the Open Networking Summit, which starts today and runs through Friday.