An industry consortium looking to accelerate the adoption of network-functions virtualization is rolling out its first software release that is aimed at organizations and developers that are looking for a deployment and test platform or building network applications.
The Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) project has rolled out "Arno," an open-source platform that group officials said will give users and developers a framework for testing NFV efforts, checking out basic NFV uses cases and trying out virtual network functions (VNFs). The growing demand among telecommunications vendors and other organizations for ways to more quickly adopt and implement NFV is driving the OPNFV's efforts, according to Chris Price, technical steering committee chairman and open-source manager for software-defined networking (SDN), NFV and the cloud for network vendor Ericsson.
"Arno is a major step in achieving these goals, implementing a congruent NFV platform for accelerated development and application deployment across the industry," Price said in a statement.
NFV and SDN are changing how service providers and enterprises are looking at their networks. By removing the data plane and networking tasks—such as firewalls, routing and load balancing—from the underlying physical gear and putting them into software that can run on inexpensive commodity hardware, organizations are hoping to create networks that are more responsive, scalable, agile and programmable to handle rapidly changing demands brought on by such trends as cloud computing, analytics, IT mobility and social software.
OPNFV was launched in September 2014 by a broad range of vendors and carriers, including Cisco Systems, Intel, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Ericsson, China Mobile and Sprint. Three months later, officials said they were preparing the consortium's first software releases for this year. Arno comprises the NFV infrastructure and virtual infrastructure manager components of the architecture laid out by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).
Key among Arno's roles is as a baseline platform for deploying and testing components from an array of other open-source projects, such as Ceph, KVM, OpenDaylight, OpenStack and Open vSwitch, according to officials. In addition, developers can deploy and test their VNFs, and the consortium also is offering a community test labs infrastructure, where users can test the platform in a range of different NFV scenarios, they said.
"We're already seeing a positive impact from NFV on the telecom market through a wide variety of successful proofs of concept and active involvement in solutions and standards development from every facet of the telecommunication industry," John Healy, general manager of the SDN Division within Intel's Communication and Storage Infrastructure Group, wrote in a post on the company's blog. "But Arno, and future OPNFV releases, will help to speed the transition from PoC to industry adoption by providing a standardized, proven, open-source NFV infrastructure that is suitable for all NFV applications. … Arno is a developer release, meaning the software now enters into the industry supply chain."
Now hardware and software makers will be able to "further test, fix, integrate and customize the platform—a process much like the one that computer operating systems go through," Healy wrote, adding that future releases will include APIs to other NFV elements.
OPNFV officials said the group now has 57 member companies and has worked with more than 100 developers to build the platform.
"With Arno, end users can delve into the platform and begin testing use cases right away," OPNFV Director Heather Kirksey said in a statement. "Our goal for future releases is to continue enhancing the platform with new features that address specific real-world scenarios and carrier-grade requirements."