The vendors behind a 3-month-old open-source effort around network-functions virtualization (NFV) are beginning to lay out the direction the new group is taking as it rolls into 2015.
In a recent post on the organization’s blog, Chris Price, chairman of the technical steering committee (TSC) for the Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV), said the panel is reviewing a broad array of project ideas to see what ones will be pursued by the committee. In addition, the wider OPNFV community will focus on establishing an integration and baseline platform while also creating several NFV-related projects that will find their way into the OPNFV’s second release of 2015.
“To this end the community and TSC have been busy reviewing and approving several of the projects and establishing methodologies for community collaboration,” said Price, open-source manager for software-defined networking (SDN), NFV and the cloud for network vendor Ericsson.
He added that the consortium’s software release names will have river themes.
Ericsson was among a number of big-name tech firms—others include IBM, Cisco Systems, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard and China Mobile—that launched the OPNFV at the end of September with the goal of developing an open-source reference architecture that will help accelerate the adoption of NFV in enterprise and service provider data centers.
Since that time, the project—which is under the auspices of the Linux Foundation—has grown its membership to 44, including such vendors as Dell, Red Hat, Brocade, Intel, Juniper Networks, Huawei, ARM, Alcatel-Lucent, Sprint and Broadcom. Most recently, the OPNFV on Dec. 11 added Midokura, Sonus Networks, Array Networks and Ooredoo. On the same day, the organization announced the establishment of the TSC to help develop the technical direction it will take.
“The number and diversity of the member companies supporting the project is a validation of the high level of hope on open source as the preferred delivery method for a de facto standard NFV platform,” wrote Price, who also is Ericsson’s representative on the technical steering committee for the OpenDaylight Project, another Linux Foundation effort that is creating an open-source framework for SDN.
With the rise of such trends as mobile computing, big data, social networking and the cloud, organizations are looking for ways to make their networking infrastructure more agile, scalable and responsive to the rapidly shifting demands of employees and customers. Programming traditional networks—with their costly and complex hardware—can be time-consuming and expensive efforts.
SDN and NFV promise to change that by removing the control plane and network tasks—such as firewalls and load balancing—from the underlying gear and putting them into software that can run on inexpensive commodity systems and can reduce programming time from months to minutes in some cases. This makes it easier for organizations to more quickly spin out applications and services to their customers and end users.
An emphasis is being put on leveraging the open-source model to develop the basic frameworks for both SDN and NFV that vendors can then build on, a method similar to how Linux evolved. There are several open-source efforts around SDN—including OpenDaylight—and now the same model is being applied to NFV.
Open-Source NFV Group Readying Software Releases for 2015
Most networking and data center infrastructure vendors are building their network virtualization, SDN and NFV capabilities, with the bulk offering solutions with varying degrees of openness, often in conjunction with the open-source OpenStack cloud orchestration stack. In his blog post, Price noted that OPNFV representatives went to the OpenStack Summit in November, “where we invested time meeting the OpenStack community and finding ways to collaborate on feature development and testing. Cross community collaboration is a key focus area for 2015 with the OPNFV community looking to invest in and providing value both to our user and developer communities.”
In recent months, vendors like Dell and Juniper announced open NFV efforts that include leveraging the OpenStack capabilities, while HP and Nokia Networks in November announced a partnership in which the companies will create a cloud-based platform on which carriers can built their next-generation networks based NFV and running on HP’s Helion OpenStack-based cloud platform. Also last month, Huawei Technologies announced it is building an NFV Open Lab, which will ensure that solutions and carrier-grade infrastructures that come out of it will be compatible with the standards being created by the OPNFV.
Vendor interest in both SDN and NFV is understandable. Not only do the technologies promise to meet the demands of end users, but analysts expect the markets for both technologies to grow quickly over the next several years. Infonetics Research in a report in November forecasted that the market for global carrier SDN and NFV hardware and software will grow from less than $500 million in 2013 to more than $11 billion in 2018, with NFV accounting for most of the revenues over that time. By 2018, SDN and NFV software will make up three-quarters of the overall revenues in the SDN and NFV market, the market research firm said.
The OPNFV will be carrying the momentum of the last three months into the new year, Price wrote. The group will be at various events, including the meet-up at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit in February and the OpenStack Summit in May.
“The belief that many minds are better than one is the driving force behind open source,” he wrote. “It’s your code, ideas and feedback that will make open source NFV a reality.”