Cyan and Red Hat are announcing OpenStack enhancements that will make it possible to place virtualized network functions (VNFs) more precisely in the cloud, theoretically giving NFV performance a boost.
In working with NFV in its labs, Telefónica has found that the placement of VNFs can affect performance, which in turn could run afoul of service-level agreements. There will be times when it’s preferable to have multiple VNFs running on the same blade, or to have the CPUs and storage for a service be housed in the same rack.
“To make NFV work, there have to be some intelligent and deterministic policies that the operator must be able to define,” says Nirav Modi, director of software innovations at Cyan.
This could also be useful when it comes to different grades of service. For a premium service, the carrier could make sure the virtual machines end up on the same server, whereas a best-effort service might have its virtual machines spun up willy-nilly.
Red Hat wrote the actual OpenStack code for this feature. The enhancements let orchestration software send location information, dictating that virtual machines be housed together — or even apart, in cases where that’s needed for telco redundancy.
The chain of command goes like this: The carrier decides how VNFs ought to be placed, based on a the service’s situation and also on recommendations from the software vendor that provided the VNFs. Those requirements get passed to Cyan’s Blue Planet orchestration software, which would then use Red Hat’s granular APIs to place the virtual machines. “Red Hat is doing the orchestration at the lowest layer,” Modi says.
Red Hat’s enhancements are part of Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform now but will eventually be available as open-source code, usable by any orchestration platform. You might note that Cyan could have been replaced by any old orchestration in this announcement; Cyan was involved because Telefónica chose the vendor, along with Red Hat, to work on this problem, Modi says.
Modi said it’s tough to predict when the software will be done — and once it’s ready, it has to wait for OpenStack’s twice-yearly software release cycle to become available in a production sense. So, he’s offering no timeframe for when these features might be available. “I would say we’re going to continue making investments [in the technology] into 2015,” Modi says.