The European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI), an independent standardization group, has been key in developing standards for information and communications technologies (ICT) in Europe. Created in 1988 as a nonprofit, ETSI was established by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administration (CEPT). With more than 800 member organizations, 65 counties, and five continents are represented by ETSI.
The ETSI Industry Specification Group for Network Functions Virtualization (ETSI ISG NFV), a group charged with developing requirements and architecture for virtualization for various functions within telecoms networks. ETSI ISG NFV formed in 2012 when it brought together seven leading telecoms network operators, including AT&T, BT, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, and Verizon. These companies were joined by 52 other network operators, telecoms equipment vendors, IT vendors, and technology providers to make up the ETSI ISG NFV. The ETSI ISG NFV community has grown since then to include more than 300 individual companies and 38 service providers. Since its formation, the group has published more than 100 publications that include pre-standardization studies, specifications, and Proof of Concepts.
ETSI ISG NFV exists side by side with the current Technical Organization, but they do have their own membership, which can be comprised of both ETSI and non-ETSI members (under some conditions). ISGs have their own voting rules and approve their own deliverables, as they independently choose their own work program.
Why Do We Need ETSI ISG NFV?
Telecoms networks are made up of an array of proprietary hardware devices. Launching a new service often means more devices, which means finding the space and power to accommodate those appliances. However, this has become increasingly difficult. Hardware-based devices now have shorter and shorter life cycles due to rapid innovation, making the return of investment lower and lower when deploying new services, as well as limiting innovation as the industry is driven toward network-centric solutions.
Network functions virtualization (NFV) focuses on addressing these problems. By evolving standard IT virtualization technology, NFV implements network functions into software so that it can run on a range of industry-standard server hardware and may easily be moved to various locations within the network as needed. With NFV, the necessity to install new equipment is eliminated. This results in lower CapEx and OpEx, shorter time-to-market deployment of network services, higher return on investment, more flexibility to scale up or scale down, openness to the virtual device network, as well as more opportunity to test and deploy new services with lower risk.
The ETSI ISG NFV helps by setting requirements and architecture specifications for hardware and software infrastructure needed to make sure virtualized functions are maintained. ETSI ISG NFV also manages guidelines for developing network functions. It routinely publishes its research findings to advance the industry’s use of NFV.