Cloud network function virtualization (NFV) – CloudNFV – is an organized effort to provide and open management architecture for deploying NFV in a cloud environment using open standards. NFV is defined as a group traditional networking and communications functions that can be deployed on industry-standard hardware using flexible software provisioning.
An official CloudNFV group was championed by analyst Tom Nolle of CIMI Corp. and formed by 6Wind, CIMI Corp., Dell Inc., Enterprise Web, Overture Networks, and Qosmos in 2013. Other companies, including MetaSwitch, joined later. The goal was to build on existing standards work by the ETSI Industry Specification Group (ISG) on NFV and add more management and orchestrations capabilities. The groups’s members argued that NFV needed more robust policy and operational model to make it suitable for service providers.
CloudNFV established a model for NFV that it called the “Three pillars”: Network functions, functions virtualization, and operationalization.
CloudNFV, in its initial white paper, described how NFV cloud be integrated into existing Operations Support Systems (OSS) and Billing Support Systems (BSS) OSS/BSS and management systems in existing operator environments. This paper describes an “Active Virtualization” model consisting of Active Contracts and Active Resources, elements that could be built to help service providers deploy Virtual Network Functions. Active Contracts would consist of standardized service templates for particular VNFs, while Active Resources uses policy rules to designate the best hardware and infrastructure to be used to deliver these VNFs. Active resources could utilize other NFV standards to coordinate infrastructure elements, including OpenStack and Neutron networking Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
The idea behind the CloudNFV architecture was that Active Contracts and Active Resources components could optimize, orchestrate and manage the NFV services.
Tom Nolle, CloudNFV, in the Future
The original CloudNFV project was driven by analyst Tom Nolle, the principal at CIMI Corp., who maintained that the ETSI ISG standards for NFV were to narrow and needed more integration with management functions. Many of these management and orchestration features have been added by vendor members of CloudNFV.
Many of the companies in CloudNFV, such as Overture Networks, Qosmos, and MetaSwitch, used CouldNFV architecture to develop their own management services and VNFs. MetaSwitch’s Project Clearwater, for example, included an IMS function as one of the first NFV prototypes. Overture’s Ensemble Service Orchestrator (ESO) and Ensemble Network Controller (ENC) were based on the original CloudNFV architecture.
CloudNFV and Lifecycle Service Orchestration
CloudNFV is one of several efforts to create a more robust management and orchestration ecosystem for delivering NFV technology. Recent carrier feedback on service orchestration, including information gathered in a joint survey by the MEF and the Rayno Report, indicated that operators consider orchestration and integration with OSS systems a key element of NFV services development.
Other organizations, such as the MEF, have been building its own framework and set of orchestration standards. The MEF calls its framework “Third Network” initiative, designed to help operators build more dynamic and automated services. Lifecycle Services Orchestration (LSO) is a developing market that consists of orchestration, management, and integrated OSS functions that can be integrated with SDN and NFV standards.
Whether it’s independent standards groups, alliances, or proprietary vendors, it’s clear that the software and hardware vendors are moving to build more open, standards-based orchestration and management systems to help deploy NFV, part of CloudNFV’s original mission.