Brenner has been influential in NFV for quite some time. He worked as a senior architect with Alcatel-Lucent on its CloudBand initiative. Most recently, he was SVP of product strategy with ClearPath. And he’s also been vice chair of the ETSI NFV-ISG standards group. Since joining GigaSpaces, he’s resigned from his ETSI post while GigaSpaces goes through the process of joining ETSI.
In addition to his standards work, he’s been involved in open source groups, including Open-O and OPNFV. And he doesn’t think that people need to make a choice between working with open source or working with standards groups.
“I like to combine the two approaches,” says Brenner, adding that standards groups tend to take the long-term view, while open source groups are focused on more tactical, shorter-term problems. But the work of both groups is complementary to each other.
Brenner’s approach is to look at the bigger picture; pick a long-term goal to solve a particular problem; and then step back and see what’s missing. “Then you iteratively start prototyping certain things,” he says. “You get into an open source project that is willing to iterate on this smaller project. You don’t know what the solutions will be in the end.”
After the open source community has developed a solution, and it’s seen some adoption, “you can draw conclusions and put an official stamp on it by creating the appropriate standard,” Brenner says. A side benefit is that the resulting standard is actually relevant because it’s been prototyped.
Orchestration of Orchestrators
First, let’s just say that the word “orchestration” is overused and used in way too many different ways.
ETSI NFV originally coined the acronym MANO, and ETSI defined some related functional blocks in its NFV framework. Those blocks include the network functions virtualization orchestrator (NFVO) and the virtual network functions manager (VNFM).
“Aria fulfills a large portion of both the NFVO and the VNFM,” says Brenner. “But you cannot say Aria equals the NFVO or the VNFM. We want Aria to be used by others. You build your own NFVO using this component, which is in open source.”
So the Aria orchestration code is more versatile than just being used as part of the functional blocks within the ETSI NFV framework. For example, GigaSpaces is also a contributor to the open source MANO project Open-O. And Aria will be part of the Open-O project as the orchestration engine.
There’s that word “orchestration” again. In fact, Open-O uses the word all over the place. It has an element called SDN-O (which stands for SDN orchestration). And it also has an NFV-O and a Cross Domain-O.
“In principal, you can take Aria and use it as an orchestration engine in each of those places,” says Brenner. “If I want to build an end-to-end product, I would like to have as many reusable parts and pick the best orchestration engine I can find.”
TOSCA versus YANG
GigaSpaces extols the virtues of the Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA), which Cloudify uses to model every aspect of an application.
But there’s been some talk of tension between those in the TOSCA camp and those in the YANG camp.
“I think the tension is manufactured,” says Brenner. “These are two standards specifications that have been targeted from the beginning toward different domains. It’s apples to oranges.”
He says TOSCA was developed to deploy workloads in the cloud. It deals with generic aspects of those workloads such as installing the application, starting it, stopping it, upgrading it, and healing it. In a thumbnail description, Brenner says, “TOSCA is meant to make applications run. TOSCA does not know the content of the app.”
Conversely, “YANG knows very well the operational model of the app and configuration of devices,” he says. “The intent of YANG was to make sure the client and the server can communicate over the Netconf protocol.”
Brenner says, rather than quarreling over which is better, TOSCA or YANG, it will make more sense to enable them to cooperate. “We’ll do some internal design, then bring into a community – maybe Open-O,” he says.
In announcing Brenner’s hire at GigaSpaces, its founder and CTO Nati Shalom said, Brenner’s “first task will be to tackle the cooperation between TOSCA and YANG, in order to achieve increased automation leading to OPEX reduction.”