The Open Platform for Network Function Virtualization (OPNFV) is a 2-year-old Linux Foundation project that offers an integrated, installable open source NFV solution.  OPNFV combines OpenStack and over 30 additional selectable components and enhances them with carrier-grade features. End users can download their choice of installer, operating system, and SDN controller to quickly deploy a tested platform backed with a thriving open source community. The project teams have worked together on key deployment scenarios that are automatically installed, configured, and tested. A key premise of the OPNFV community is “upstream first” meaning OPNFV community members have actively contributed to blueprints and code for many OpenStack projects as well as KVM, OpenvSwitch, OpenDaylight, and the Linux kernel. OPNFV expands the OpenStack community and the “carrier-grade” philosophy actually improves OpenStack for all users, especially in performance, resiliency, and scaling geographically. The two projects are in close contact at all levels.

The diagram below shows the relationship between OPNFV projects and the many upstream projects collaborated with.

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New Features

The Arno release of OPNFV came out in June 2015 and was based on the OpenStack Juno version.  Can you tell that we’re using the names of rivers for our releases? With the March 2016 release of OPNFV, Brahmaputra jumped past Kilo and went straight to the current OpenStack Liberty release, which enhances the platform with needed carrier-grade features such as:

  • Choice of installer and operating system technology
  • IPv6 router deployment and improvements in the Linux kernel
  • Significantly improved fault detection and recovery capabilities via work in OpenStack Neutron, Ceilometer, and Monasca
  • Service Function Chaining (SFC) capabilities for Virtual Network Functions (VNFs)
  • Layer 3 Virtual Private Networking (VPN) instantiation and configuration
  • Basic resource reservation via a shim layer on top of OpenStack
  • DPDK performance enhancements for Open vSwitch and the KVM hypervisor
  • In addition to the default OpenStack networking options, OPNFV supports installation and functional Tempest tests using various SDN controllers such as OpenDaylight, ONOS from ON.Labs, and OpenContrail.

The Brahmaputra release of OPNFV includes support for four different bare-metal installers for OpenStack:

Put this all together and you get a matrix of 16 different platform combinations to consider! OPNFV Project Genesis (GENEral System Install Services) aims for a common user experience. Genesis specifies what components are included to make up an OPNFV environment such as which version of OpenStack, OVS, etc.

The Pharos project specifies the networking and server hardware a lab would need to build out for a typical deployment configuration. There’s a pod concept with 6 physical servers where the first node acts as a jump box to pxe boot the other 5. That’s 3 controller nodes and 2 for compute in a highly available (HA) configuration. There are 12 different Pharos labs each one with multiple pods each from different companies contributing resources for integration and testing the various combinations of components.  The pods are fairly static today with a fixed jump host for the designated installer and a network design using a specific layout of VLAN trunk and access ports. In future versions of OPNFV the network will be dynamically configured during each build.

The six servers that make up a pod are controlled with JenkinsJob Builder scripts stored in the OPNFV Gerrit repository. The OPNFV core release engineering team takes the code from the various installers and feature projects to ensure everything works via automation with the pods located at the various labs. Then after the base platform is proven, the code from the test projects are added to be run with Jenkins jobs as well. 4 successful builds are required to promote features for an installer from Master branch to Stable.

If you don’t have all the required hardware to dedicate to running a full blown Pharos OPNFV lab, don’t worry.  There are instructions to make it work on virtual environments and we also have a simpler OPNFV Copper Academy deployment which provides a lightweight four (4) node design that can run virtually, either on premise or hosted “in the cloud”.  See the OPNFV Demo Github link in next steps section below for more info on this.

There are a number of feature and test projects that use OPNFV after it’s built. 


We’ve shown you how to use the 4 installers to build OPNFV and choose your SDN controller. But how do we know it will work? Or how fast our applications will work on a given hardware platform?

OPNFV provides a few main testing projects that feature projects must work with to ensure their use cases will run.  


Functest provides comprehensive base system functional testing methodologies, test suites, and test cases to verify OPNFV functionality. This ensures the platform was installed correctly and the various components are working properly. For example: create a network, deploy a couple VMs, and make sure they can talk to each other with a ping.

Functest only runs functional tests, to ensure the system is running correctly, and does not spend time running performance tests. Some upstream suites include: Rally, Tempest, Robot


Yardstick is the OPNFV infrastructure performance verification project. The use cases described in ETSI GS NFV 001 show a large variety of applications, each defining specific requirements and complex configuration of the underlying infrastructure and test tools. The Yardstick concept decomposes typical VNF workload performance metrics into a number of characteristics / performance vectors, which each of them can be represented by distinct test cases.

The project's scope is to develop a test framework, test cases, and test stimuli. The methodology used by the Yardstick is aligned with ETSI TST001.

Next Steps

Recently, the OPNFV project expanded its scope to include Management and Orchestration (MANO) functions such as the VNF Manager and NFV Orchestrator. The next frontier for OPNFV is to start testing various MANO solutions. Although OpenStack offers a standard API for basic virtual machine automation, this has not yet been extended to work with the operations support system (OSS) and business support systems (BSS) used by service providers and carriers. We need a way to not only deploy VMs and leverage the typical OpenStack features, but also to manage the virtual network functions (VNFs) that get deployed on these OpenStack platforms.

For example: the new OpenStack big tent project Tacker offers a service addressing NFV Orchestration (NFVO) and VNF Manager (VNFM) use-cases leveraging the ETSI MANO architecture.

These are some of the new features provided by Tacker:

  • VNF catalog
  • VNF lifecycle management
  • Refined Management and Orchestration (MANO) API
  • Parameterized topology and orchestration specification for cloud applications (TOSCA) VNF definition template
  • VNF user-data injection
  • VNF configuration injection - during instantiation and update
  • Loadable health monitoring framework

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After this the possibilities are endless.

  • To use OPNFV Brahmaputra:


Iben Rodriguez

Rodriguez is a consultant working with Brocade to deliver SDN and NFV solutions for customers who have adopted cloud and virtualization technology. Rodriguez is working to shift SDN testing functions out of the test lab and closer to the developers and operators. He's most proud of receiving the OPNFV Director’s Award for Community Energizer Bunny.

Superuser is always interested in opinion pieces and how-tos. Please get in touch: [email protected]

Cover Photo of the Bhramaputra rive // CC BY NC