NFV * Activity Report

NFV Activity Report 2017

Chairman: Diego Lopez, Telefónica S.A.

Established to help enable the development of an open, interoperable, mature, industrial ecosystem for virtualised network functions able to run on Cloud-like infrastructures 

Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) adapts standard IT virtualization technologies, consolidating heterogeneous network infrastructures based on disparate, ad hoc equipment types onto industry standard servers, switches and storage. This sees network functions running as software on a homogeneous ‘off the shelf’ infrastructure that can be introduced to various network locations as needed.

The use of NFV simplifies the roll-out of network services, reduces deployment and operational costs, facilitates network management automation and encourages innovation. The technology is being adopted increasingly for network planning, deployment and evolution and has become an essential element of modern network design. NFV delivers significant benefits to service users and providers alike, especially in the area of emerging 5G networks.

With a membership now of more than 300 organizations, the goal of our ISG on NFV is to create strong, sustainable specifications that are flexible enough to accommodate and adjust to both current demands and emerging requirements that may as yet be unknown. These specifications will enable network functions to be deployed dynamically and on-demand, making organizations more agile in addressing customer needs and new challenges facing network technologies.

During 2017, the ISG made good progress with its Release 3, addressing aspects such as license management, multi-site deployment, software updates and cloud-ready software architectures for network functions. Our work also covered forward-looking topics such as Platform as a Service (PaaS) support in NFV, multi-domain orchestration and support of 5G network slicing. By the end of the year, our work programme had expanded to cover the specification of requirements, interfaces and information models supporting Release 3 features.

As an essential part of standardization work, NFV ISG is committed to maintaining the Release 2 specifications while building the upcoming Release 3. The Release 2 portfolio is not only being maintained, but is growing with results related to stage 3 specifications (protocols and data models) based on the stage 2 specifications (requirements, interfaces and information models) already available. This includes conformance testing specifications, and the availability of REST API formal descriptions, that together with the UML-based information model descriptions provide valuable mechanisms to ease the development of interoperable implementations and their validation.

Effective interoperability is the ultimate goal of any standardization activity. Collaborating with our Centre for Testing and Interoperability (CTI) team, ISG NFV organized a well-attended Plugtests™ event. where solution developers met to explore how these solutions interoperate, tuning them to enhance their interoperability. The practical and strong technical focus of Plugtests attracted great interest and has been highly valued by both NFV solution providers and users.

Open collaboration with other standardization bodies and with open source projects remained a priority. 2017 saw tightened collaboration with ETSI Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) ISG, and bodies dealing with 5G technologies, as well as the Open Source MANO (OSM) and OPNFV projects. A proof of this collaborative approach, and of the impact of the Plugtests mentioned above, was the direct interaction with OSM, and the agreement to organize joint interoperability events with OPNFV during 2018.
We launched an active collaboration with OpenStack, the reference open source implementation for cloud management. 

There are two groups that appeared during 2017 and that will have a strong interaction with the NFV ISG as they are focused on automation, one of the key goals of the NFV technologies. These are the open-source project ONAP and the new ETSI ISG on Zero Touch Network and Service Management (ZSM). Increased collaboration with both groups is forecast during 2018.