Former Broadband Forum technical working group chair Heather Kirksey will be the new director of network function virtualization (NFV) at the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV), the fledgling open source standards project hosted by the Linux Foundation.
Spearheading the group’s marketing and events efforts, Kirksey now becomes the face of OPNFV, which was founded in September as a joint effort between carriers and vendors. New silver-level members announced Tuesday morning include carrier giants Korea Telecom and SK Telecom, as well as vendors Spirent, Enea, and Xilinx.
The impetus for the project sprang from carriers looking to NFV as a way to rapidly deploy new services — for potential new revenue streams. OPNFV aims to standardize a reference platform for virtual network functions such as firewalls and load balancers, giving vendors a common set of specs to follow when building for carrier clients.
Unlike OpenDaylight, the open source SDN controller platform also hosted by the Linux Foundation, OPNFV did not kick off with a core base of contributed code. Instead, the project intends to integrate upstream open source projects — such as OpenDaylight, KVM, and OpenStack — into an open, carrier-grade NFV reference platform.
“If you look at the explosion of different types of services and different types of traffic on telco networks, they’ve ended up with great deal of complexity and special purpose hardware,” Kirksey tells SDxCentral. “It’s difficult for anybody to get services defined and rolled out.”
NFV offers a potential solution, by allowing speedy deployment of virtual network functions.
To succeed, Kirksey will have to find a way to reconcile the freewheeling culture of open source with the exacting requirements of carrier-grade infrastructure.
“It’s new for telcos to be doing open source, and it’s new for the open source community to be thinking in terms of telco grade,” Kirksey says. “But the number of operators who were pushing for this speaks to the demand.”
Kirksey most recently worked on strategic technology alliances at MongoDB, maker of the popular open source database system of the same name. Prior to that, Kirksey led open technology strategy at Alcatel-Lucent, and served on the board of directors for the Broadband Forum telco standards consortium, also chairing that group’s Broadband Home Technical Working Group.
“I found myself missing networking and wanting to get back in the networking space,” Kinsey says of her decision to leave MongoDB. “I also missed the multicompany collaboration aspect.
“There’s certainly an aspect of cat herding involved, but it’s really cool to see companies coming together to make something bigger than any could by themselves.”