The NFV orchestrator (NFVO) is a key component of the NFV MANO (network functions virtualization management and network orchestration) architectural framework, which helps standardize the functions of virtual networking to increase interoperability of software-defined networking (SDN) elements. The NFVO performs resource orchestration and network service orchestration, as well as other functions.
The NFVO is a central component of an NFV-based solution. It brings together different functions to make a single orchestration service that encompasses the whole framework and has well-organized resource use.
Where Does NFV Orchestrator Fit Into NFV?
Network functions virtualization (NFV) decouples network functions from the hardware. It thereby expands options for both enterprises and service providers, enabling both to create new capabilities and new offers to customers.
With new opportunities come new challenges. Traditionally, network function implementations have been packaged with the infrastructure they run on — but no longer. As the physical network is decoupled from the infrastructure and network services, it is necessary to create both new management tools and orchestration solutions for providers to use NFV technologies.
The Management and Orchestration Working Group of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has defined the NFV MANO architecture to address these needs. It consists of three major functional blocks, including virtual infrastructure manager (VIM), virtual network function manager (VNFM), and the NFV orchestrator.
The NFV MANO architectural framework presented within the dotted lines. Source: ETSI
Resource Orchestration and the NFVO
Resource orchestration is important to ensure there are adequate compute, storage, and network resources available to provide a network service. To meet that objective, the NFVO can work either with the VIM or directly with NFV infrastructure (NFVI) resources, depending on the requirements.
When the NFVO is working directly with NFVI resources, it can coordinate, authorize, release, and engage them without interacting with any specific VIM. The orchestrator can manage resources by engaging with the VIMs directly through their northbound APIs as well.
It also provides governance for when virtual network function (VNF) instances share NFVI resources.
Having options in managing resources is important because to solve the new challenges faced by network operators, it may be more effective to deploy NFV-based solutions across different points of presence (POPs) or within one POP but across multiple resources. With NFV MANO, service providers can use an NFVO to utilize and optimize this capability.
To provide service orchestration, the NFVO creates a comprehensive service among different VNFs that may be managed by different VNFMs the NFVO coordinates with.
This would be applicable when an administrator may want to create a service between the base station VNFs from one vendor and the core node VNFs of another vendor. In addition, the NFVO can orchestrate the topology management of the network services instances (also called VNF forwarding graphs).
NFV Orchestrator’s Importance and Components
NFV has promised to reduce operational costs and increase the velocity of new offerings for service providers. However, cloud providers , mobile network operators, and other service providers already have traditional networks in place. NFV solutions will only replace components of their overall solutions and therefore must be able to interoperate with existing functions such as OSS/BSS and legacy networking systems.
The NFVO provides key access to resources and instances in order to create an overall NFV solution that includes VNF catalogs, network services catalogs, NFV instances, and NFVI resources. Additionally, the NFV MANO solution must interact with other components such as the OSS/BSS solutions already in place.
Today NFV orchestrators are typically delivered as a component of an NFV MANO solution, which has crossed key development chasms. These include the GitHUB project OpenMANO, led by Telefónica; and the Linux Foundation’s Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV), expanding its original scope to include this critical solution area.
Updated March 2019