NFV * Activity Report

NFV Activity Report 2016

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 

With Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV), standard IT virtualisation technology is adapted to consolidate many network equipment types onto industry-standard high volume servers, switches and storage. This involves implementing network functions in software which can run on a range of industry-standard server hardware. This software can then be moved to, or introduced in, various locations in the network as required. 

The use of NFV simplifies the roll-out of network services, reduces deployment and operational costs 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 promises to deliver significant benefits to service users and providers alike, particularly in the area of emerging 5G networks. 

The goal of ETSI’s Industry Specification Group (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 organisations more agile in addressing customer needs and the new challenges facing network technologies. The group is involved in developing normative specifications, informative reports and guidelines, as well as demonstrations of the capabilities of NFV in the form of Proofs of Concept (PoCs) and Plugtests™ events. 

Membership of the group has grown since its establishment in 2012, from a small number of influential founders to around 300 organisations. 

Activity in 2016 was intense. In September, the virtualisation of telecommunication networks moved a significant step closer with the publication of NFV Release 2. Building on documentation released by ISG NFV in 2014, Release 2 incorporates 11 new Group Specifications (GSs), in addition to the many NFV specifications already published, and includes the ISG’s first normative specifications. Release 2 details the various requirements, interface descriptions and information models which will enable the interoperability of solutions based on the ETSI NFV Architectural Framework. Release 2 outlines the functional requirements in relation to a wide set of functional areas, such as the management of virtualised resources, the lifecycle management of both network services and virtualised network functions, network service fault/performance management and virtualised resource capacity management.

Following the publication of Release 2, the ISG was granted a two-year extension. This will allow the group to consolidate NFV technologies, continue to address new issues which have already been identified, explore network infrastructure evolution and maintain its existing specifications. The ISG will remain a focal point for network virtualisation technologies, supporting the evolution of telecommunications networks, especially 5G, for which NFV is widely regarded as being a key enabling technology. 

By the end of 2016, ISG NFV had also defined the content of Release 3. The main objectives are to provide consistent operational integration with connectivity services, to consolidate security mechanisms and to enable the support of multi-domain scenarios suitable for potential new business models. During the development of Release 3, the group will identify and address the additional requirements for NFV technologies as a result of the evolution of telecommunications networks, particularly 5G, and will explore questions related to multi-domain and multi-tenancy, addressing issues such as licensing, accounting and charging.

A new Working Group on Solutions (SOL) was established to develop a consolidated set of protocols and data model specifications to support interoperability.

In December the ETSI Board agreed the establishment of a Specialist Task Force (STF) for ISG NFV – the first ever STF approved to support an ISG – to begin work in January 2017, identifying gaps between ETSI NFV specifications and OpenStack™ Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). 

The use of PoC demonstrations to validate key concepts has been a critical factor in the success of the ISG’s work, helping to accelerate the adoption of NFV for a broader range of applications. In 2017 the ISG will extend the scope of the existing PoC framework by means of more advanced interoperability assessment practices and will refocus on research results. 

ISG NFV began planning the first NFV Plugtests event, to be held early in 2017, in Leganes, near Madrid, Spain. The event was designed to offer test sessions for vendors and Open Source projects to assess the level of interoperability of their implementations and verify the correct interpretation of ETSI’s NFV specifications.

The ISG invested considerable effort in disseminating its progress in 2016, with numerous speaking engagements. 

In January 2016, ISG NFV convened a major industry information modelling workshop in Louisville, USA, which, for the first time, brought standards bodies and Open Source communities together to accelerate the alignment of their NFV activities. This workshop was the starting point for close collaboration with external groups to ensure that information models are aligned. A second workshop organised by the ISG, held in Bonn, Germany, in December 2016, demonstrated the level of co-operation achieved so far, and such liaison was expected to intensify in 2017.