Over the course of the last 5 years, since ETSI and the world’s leading communications service providers (CSPs) launched the ETSI ISG for NFV (Network Function Virtualization) in early 2013, vendors and CSPs alike have been working to make NFV a reality. Disaggregation of network services from proprietary hardware, deployment of a fully virtualized infrastructure, modern cloud designs and advanced, agile orchestration and management all promise lower CapEx and OpEx, with improved agility and time to market.
In 2018, the momentum behind NFV continues, even as reality sets in that full NFV adoption will take longer as CSPs slowly transition their infrastructure, business processes and culture—NFV adoption is not simply a technology problem. Regardless, NFV, along with cloud adoption, will continue its uptake and we will cover the state of NFV across our three report series. Our 2018 reports will cover a wide range, from industry-standard commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware as NFV Infrastructure (NFVI), to hypervisors and the Virtualized Infrastructure Managers (VIMs), to Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) and the management and orchestration (MANO) necessary to deploy these functions.
This specific report covers the latest in NFVI and VIM development, the key foundations of any NFV deployment. We continue to see diversity in NFVI hardware, from the dominant standard 19-inch rackmount servers to other forms like blade servers and an increasing focus on hyperconverged architectures (HCI), especially for edge deployment supporting 5G and IoT services. As well, alternate compute platforms based on ARM architectures battle for CSP deployments with x86 architecture from both Intel and AMD are popping up at the Edge and on customer premises equipment (CPE). We’ll cover more on the CPE, vCPE (virtual CPE) and uCPE (universal CPE) trends in our SD-WAN and Virtual Edge report later this year.
2018 NFV Report Series Part 1: NFV Infrastructure (NFVI) and VIM Webinar:
Since the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the world’s leading communications service providers (CSPs) launched the ETSI ISG for Network Function Virtualization (NFV) in early 2013, vendors and CSPs alike have been working to make NFV a reality. As part of the update to our annual NFV report series, we are publishing three reports. The recently published report on NFV Infrastructure (NFVI) and the Virtualized Infrastructure Managers (VIMs) is available for download. This report will cover the management and orchestration (MANO) necessary to deploy these functions, as well as the topic of service assurance. And the upcoming third report will cover Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) and NFV use cases.
The momentum in 2018 for NFV and NFV MANO continues, with significant developments across multiple fronts. As CSPs slowly transition their infrastructure, they are all realizing that NFV adoption not only involves technology but business processes and culture too. And the portion of NFV that ties in closely with business processes, the traditional BSS/OSS systems, is NFV MANO.
Over the past year, we’ve seen significant momentum behind Linux Foundation ONAP (Open Network Automation Platform). More carriers have announced support for it, and many vendors are signed up to be part of the ecosystem, though some may be taking a wait-and-see approach to figure out the real-world traction before investing more than just marketing resources. Regardless, Verizon’s support of ONAP, as well as Bell Canada’s deployment of ONAP modules, lends weight to ONAP, beyond the original deployments from AT&T and China Mobile. There is still significant work required to develop ONAP before it’s clear whether the technology is commercially deployable in environments outside of AT&T where ONAP was incubated and spent its formative years. And it remains to be seen what happens with ETSI’s OSM (Open Source MANO), which effectively competes with ONAP, though there are discussions around collaboration.
Communication service providers (CSPs) worldwide continue to invest in virtualization of their network infrastructure, laying the groundwork for 5G and IoT services. Some have even taken the lead in accelerating service development on top of existing standards, thereby jumpstarting extensions to existing standards and defining new ones with their contributions. Moreover, CSPs continue pushing vendors to disaggregate specialized networking equipment in favor of open architectures.
This final installment in the NFV Report series covers the latest in network functions virtualization (NFV) virtual network functions (VNFs), the workhorse of NFV. These are the actual network functions that provide the desired network services. VNFs benefit from the underlying NFV Infrastructure (NFVI) that hosts these services and provides the appropriate virtualization capabilities as well as NFV MANO that orchestrates and manages the VNFs and the NFV Infrastructure to roll out NFV services.