The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV group is thinking about something that perhaps not too many others involved in network functions virtualization (NFV) are thinking about: software licensing.
But since NFV is built with software, it’s probably a good idea to think about licensing sooner rather than later.
“Software license management in the telecommunications environment is about to become an order of magnitude more complex as NFV emerges from the shadows to become the technology of choice for future telecommunications network infrastructures,” writes Don Clarke, principal architect of network technologies at CableLabs, in a recent blog post. Clarke also chairs the ETSI NFV network operator council and is a member of the ETSI NFV leadership team.
Some of the commercial software licensing models telecom operators currently deal with include: perpetual, pre-pay, post-pay, pay-per-use, pay-per-GByte, pay-per-Gbit, pay-by-maximum-instances, pay-per-day, pay-per-month, and pay-per-minute. Add licenses for multiple VNFs to the mix, and it could get ugly, fast.
Clarke said he became concerned about NFV software license management when an executive from a small independent software company expressed worry that network operators might avoid small companies because they didn’t want to manage myriad licenses. Clarke realized this would defeat one of the main purposes of NFV: to open the telecommunications ecosystem to small innovative software players.
To address this issue, ETSI NFV has published the “Report on License Management for NFV.” It documents the features required to be implemented within the ETSI NFV architectural framework to support NFV license management. These features will enable any combination of commercial license management without the need for proprietary license management mechanisms.
The ETSI NFV work is complemented by work in TM Forum on NFV license management, addressing the higher layer requirements.
The next step will be to specify the necessary features within the ETSI NFV architectural framework and associated APIs that may be required to support license management. This work is targeted to be complete in time for Release 3 of the ETSI NFV specifications in the summer of 2018.
ETSI issued its NFV Release 2 specifications in September 2016.