A TL;DR on the new 21-page report from the Foundation gets you up to speed.

As global telecom providers ramp up their adoption of network functions virtualization (NFV) to increase network agility and contain costs, OpenStack leads as the NFV infrastructure platform of choice.

And this is just the starting line. The global market for NFV equipment, software and services will hit $11.6 billion in 2019, up from $2.3 billion in 2015, according to research firm IHS© Infonetics.

A 21-page report from the OpenStack Foundation titled "Accelerating NFV Delivery with OpenStack," describes NFV, how OpenStack supports NFV and how global telecoms are hopping aboard this open source future of networking.

Along with insight from experts at Red Hat, Mirantis and the Linux Foundation, the report offers an inside look at how industry leaders including AT&T, Bloomberg, China Mobile, Deutsche Telecom and NTT Communications are thinking about NFV now or planning to implement it in 2016.

The report shows how big a shift NFV will be when it comes to how telecoms and large enterprise network operators create and manage networks in the near future. It’s a quantum leap from dedicated appliances and proprietary software to a more flexible, open and cost-effective way of network systems management. In NFV, virtual network functions (VNFs) run as software on virtual machines, containers or bare metal to assume the tasks of specific network devices.

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the Linux Foundation Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) have defined specifications and released reference platforms for NFV that select OpenStack as the virtualization integration manager. Emerging OpenStack projects provide options for additional management and orchestration components.

The pace for NFV adoption has sped up as cloud computing and near ubiquitous network connectivity accelerate the use of mobile apps. Service providers and telecoms are striving to deliver the data and services demands of customers in the most agile, cost-effective ways possible. OpenStack for NFV continues its path to production this year, in line with development blueprints from telecom providers and the OPNFV community, as well as ETSI NFV requirements. An added plus: these stringent requirements and features of NFV help all OpenStack users — especially in the areas of performance, resiliency and scaling geographically.

What’s behind the big push with NFV? In a word: agility. The infrastructure and VNFs run on general purpose servers and switches and take advantage of open APIs.
There are many operational and technical benefits that network operators expect from NFV implementation, including:

  • Network flexibility via programmatic provisioning
  • Taking advantage of the open source pace of innovation—ever-emerging
    improvements in both the telecom and the traditional IT space
  • Full choice of modular drivers and plug-ins
  • Accessibility via API, enabling faster time to market for new capabilities
  • Lower costs by replacing with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware, better price/performance
  • Reduced power consumption and space utilization
  • Operational efficiency across datacenters via orchestration: managing
    thousands of devices from one console
  • Visibility: automated monitoring, troubleshooting and actions across
    physical and virtual
    networks and devices
  • Boosts performance by optimizing network device utilization
  • Service-license agreement (SLA)-driven resource allocation (initial and ongoing)
  • Quality of service: performance, scalability, footprint, resilience, integration,
    manageability
  • Policy-driven redundancy
  • Application-level infrastructure support

The report also takes a look under the hood at companies making tracks with NFV. Verizon, for example, is turning to NFV as a way to build lower-cost network agility and flexibility without requiring the support staff demanded by proprietary network functions. “They are building a company-wide common OpenStack platform for running VNFs (Virtual Network Functions), as well as other internal applications. Production is around the corner,” reports co-author Kathy Cacciatore, the OpenStack Foundation’s consulting marketing manager.

Here’s why Verizon chose OpenStack for its NFV effort:

  • It offers de facto implementation of a VIM (virtual infrastructure manager)
  • A critical mass of vendors are porting and developing applications (VNFs)
    targeted at OpenStack
  • Integrators have developed the necessary deployment expertise using
    OpenStack
  • OpenStack is a common environment that reduces vendor dependencies
  • OpenStack components are being tuned to the needs of carriers, essential to Verizon’s ongoing efforts
  • The ability to push fixes upstream so patches do not have to be retrofitted
    again and again, so they can focus on innovating.

The report also outlines how you can stay informed about NFV and get involved in contributing to NFV at OpenStack. You can download it here.

Cover Photo // CC BY NC

  • Very insightful. Now, the difficult part will be the execution of software-defined infrastructure strategies. Based on my own observation, some service providers are already seeing the results of their first-to-market leadership.