- Chapter 1: NFV Infrastructure (NFVI)
- Chapter 2: Virtualized Infrastructure Manager
- Chapter 3: Organizations Accelerating NFV and NFVI
- Chapter 4: 2017 NFVI/ VIM Deployment – Reader Survey
- Chapter 5: NFV Infrastructure and VIM Products
- Chapter 6: NFVI Data Center Hardware Platform Products
- Chapter 7: NFVI Other Hardware Platform Products
- Chapter 8: NFVI Software Products
- Chapter 9: VIM Products
2017 NFV Report Series Part 1: Foundations of NFV: NFV Infrastructure and VIM is also available as a PDF Download
Since some of the world’s leading service providers came together under the auspices of ETSI and launched the ETSI ISG for NFV in early 2013, the vendor and telco community has been working to develop the requirements and architecture for virtualized network functions, as well as design and ship early products that conform to the NFV framework.
To realize the dream of decoupling network services from proprietary hardware, thereby deploying networking components supported by a fully virtualized infrastructure, vendors and communication service providers (CSPs) worldwide have invested significantly in the components that make up NFV. As we describe in more detail across our 3 report series, significant investment has been made across the board from the industry-standard commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware, to hypervisors and the Virtualized Infastructure Managers (VIMs), to Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) and the management and orchestration (MANO) necessary to deploy these functions.
This report covers the latest in NFVI and VIM development, the key foundations of any NFV deployment. NFVI continues to develop at a good clip, with diversity in platforms across standard servers and blade servers to converged and hyperconverged architectures. Edge platforms are also developing quickly to meet the needs for edge and customer-premises computing, with varieties of vCPE deployment architectures.
At the same time, the virtualization layer has matured to include options beyond VMs (virtual machines), with exploration of Linux Container technologies as viable form factors for VNFs and a realization that some workloads might remain running on bare metal for maximum efficiency. The NFV community has also come to understand that network services are more I/O-intensive than cloud application workloads and a great deal of attention has been paid to acceleration technologies like DPDK and CPU-offload options like intelligent NICs.
On the VIM front, OpenStack and VMware vRealize suite are leading the march, with increased focus around two fronts—one, seamless integration with MANO and automation frameworks and two, ability to manage more than just VMs (extending to Containers and bare metal). Both OpenStack and VMware have introduced capabilities to manage Containers as that becomes a viable VNF packaging option.
We expect to see more NFVI developments in 2017 and a continued diversity of platforms supporting core data centers to multiple flavors of data centers at the edge, with increasing focus on deployment simplicity and manageability in addition to the current focus on performance.
Introduction – NFV Gains Momentum
Welcome to the 2017 Network Functions Virtualization Report Series. This is the third edition of our NFV report series and this year, because of the expanded coverage necessary to adequately examine all key aspects of the NFV movement, we are further splitting our report into three parts: this report covering NFV Infrastructure and the Virtual Infrastructure Manager (VIM), a second report covering NFV Management and Orchestration (MANO) and a third report covering Virtual Network Functions (VNFs).
Since we published our first report in 2015, the NFV market has progressed and matured, with operator deployments beginning in earnest. Across the board at service providers worldwide, we see roll-outs of new NFV-based services designed to be more flexible than their predecessors, while keeping OpEx and CapEx low.
The main premise of NFV is that it can deliver network functionality via software running on industry-standard commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware. And that’s already happening in production networks across the world. Communication Service Providers (CSPs) worldwide are starting to leverage commodity and standardized standard server and storage infrastructures. New services do not require new hardware infrastructure—simply software installation.
What you can expect from this report:
- An overview of NFVI and the Virtual Infrastructure Manager which controls and manages the NFVI resources
- General applications for NFV technologies, including feedback from our users in our 2017 NFV Survey.
- Details on different NFVI and VIM vendor offerings to provide early insights into the capabilities and maturity of different solutions.
Thank you for reading this report, we hope you will find it a useful resource as you look to understand and adopt NFV technologies.
A Brief History of NFV: Role of the ETSI ISG
For SDxCentral members unfamiliar with the history of NFV and ETSI, we’ll provide a brief overview in this section and get you up to speed. NFV originated in the service provider community as operators looked for ways to cut costs and accelerate the roll out of profitable services to monetize their networks and grow their revenues. Hardware-based network appliances, which are typically expensive and complex to deploy and manage, were limiting the providers’ ability to consolidate functionality and quickly trial new services.
Service providers felt if they could decouple the network services from the hardware, it would allow them to deploy networking components that could truly fit and support a fully virtualized infrastructure, including servers, storage and even other networks.
As NFV gained momentum, operators gathered within the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s (ETSI) and created the Industry Specification Group (ISG) for NFV to accelerate the progress of virtualizing network functions. Launched in January of 2013, the ETSI ISG for NFV has been working to develop the requirements and architecture of virtualized network functions in a telecommunication’s network. It included these components of the NFV framework:
- NFV Infrastructure (NFVI) – The physical resources (compute, storage, network) and the virtual instantiations that make up the infrastructure.
- Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs) – The software implementation of a network function.
- NFV Management and Orchestration (NFV MANO) – The management and control layer that focuses on all the virtualization-specific management tasks required throughout the lifecycle of the VNF.
These components each contain a number of different NFV technologies, which organizations can deploy to achieve the flexibility, scalability, and efficiencies they require
Since the original ETSI model for NFV was released, some operators have clamored for a more rapid and organic development of NFV platforms. Some operators have even put together their own technology programs, including developing their own open source projects which they then donate to the community (e.g. OSM/OpenMANO from Telefonica, ONAP comprising ECOMP from AT&T and Open-O from China Mobile). Recently, there’s been more innovation around the MANO portion of the NFV infrastructure and a recognition that MANO might need more development as a model given the gap between the MANO layer in NFV and the OSS/BSS (operations support systems/business support systems) portion of CSP businesses that handle the core orchestration and billing functions. We expect more development in this area in 2017 and the next few years. We’ll cover the details of ONAP, ECOMP, Open-O and OSM in our NFV MANO report, available soon.