ONF brings SDN into the NFV mix

Says by working with ETSI on NFV adoption it will help push the benefits of SDN, which lie just under the covers

20 March 2014 by Penny Jones - DatacenterDynamics

ONF brings SDN into the NFV mix
The Open Networking Foundation's Dan Pitt

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is working with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) on the development of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) specifications which will build on the ONF’s work already done with software-defined networks (SDN).

Speaking with FOCUS in London earlier this week, ONF executive director Dan Pitt said NFV brings about the benefits “sort of under the covers” of SDN, which is a key focus on the ONF which is developing  initiatives and supporting routes to commercial success for SDN use.

The ONF’s work includes standards - “where it makes sense” - around the clear protocols between networking equipment required for SDN, which is where its OpenFlow technology based on open standards comes into play.

The NFV architecture being looked at by ETSI and the ONF will be supported by SDN and will also work with the OpenFlow protocol.

The ONF has been working with ETSI since 2012 when ETSI released the NFV Industry Specification Group.

Pitt said since then the NFV “movement” has been gaining traction fast in the telecommunications space.

“The carriers love it because it gives them both some medium and short-term benefits to solve problems with the number of single function appliances they have, which are expensive and numerous,” Pitt said.

“In some networks the number of appliances is greater than the number of switches and routers, and not only are they expensive but each different type of appliance has its own team of administrators, and that’s the OPEX part.”

He said the end goal for network operators is to convert these admin roles into software routines, the effort of which will lead to new ways of using SDN in the network to create a single software approach to operating infrastructure.

The ONF and ETSI plan to explore how SDN will enable forward-plane support for some of the most important NFV use cases including programmable Virtualized Network Function forwarding graphs.

ETSI will be calling for proof-of-concept submissions as part of the project for the use of both NFV and SDN so it can showcase the technologies working in unison.

“We want to see NFV succeed because it is going to be so helpful to operators, even if they just think about it as converting some things to computer tasks,” Pitt said.

He said a number of Tier 1 operators are already looking at and deploying NFV technologies but the industry, like with SDN, is still in its early days.

But with more use cases being publicized the movement will only gain strength.

“Operators and network users are not so vocal but a lot of them are doing trials. The hard part is getting customers to talk about what they are doing because a lot of them see it as being a competitive advantage,” Pitt said.

The ONF has already released an OpenFlow-enabled SDN and NFV solutions brief showcasing how operators are combining the two technologies to achieve common goals and greater network agility.

The ONF is putting its Layer 4-7 group to task with ETSI work. This is a spin-off of its architecture working group.

“We plan to put together solutions packages to support the service chain,” Pitt said.



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