This month marks the end of the third year of the engagement of the telecom industry with this thing we call Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). Three years ago when a few of us got together to write the seminal white paper that coined the term NFV, and launched a call to our industry to work with us in this space, we had no idea how long it would take us to get traction and build a community. In these three years we have witnessed an explosion of effort around these three letters, and the establishment of a global community that has been engaged in defining frameworks and requirements, building proof-of-concept demonstrations and developing products and solutions. The number of industry events and conversations around this topic are also quite mind boggling (e.g., ~ 6,000 people shared #NFV links on Twitter in September 2015). My own journey from a carrier (Verizon) to a solution provider (HP) during this period has allowed me to appreciate how truly global this effort is, with both users and suppliers engaged.
We have also just crossed another milestone in the NFV journey. Last month marked the completion of one year of the existence of the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV). This open source collaborative project housed under the Linux Foundation was expressly instituted to accelerate the implementation and adoption of the NFV approach. The goal is to create a reference platform and a flexible framework for NFV based on open source software. It will integrate the efforts of various other open source projects and apply them to NFV, and fill in the gaps if necessary – the OPNFV mantra being: upstream first!
In one short year OPNFV has moved quickly beyond the initial formation phase. With 55 member companies, 43 approved projects, ~ 100 developers, ~ 1500 commits to date, and over 430 participants on the IRC with 45K + IRC messages – this is clearly a vibrant and productive community. And the community is not just having an interesting set of discussions, it has produced OPNFV’s first software release – OPNFV Arno – that provides a software platform for developing the NFV reference framework. This initial effort involved the integration of various open source software platforms (OpenStack, Open Daylight, Ceph, KVM) into an integrated release with installation and continuous build environments that allow the software to be installed and run on a variety of hardware.
As we begin the second year and embark on the next release – Brahmaputra – the focus is shifting to NFV functionality and use cases, and to testing and interoperability. The Pharos project within OPNFV has created 10 globally distributed operational OPNFV testbeds with more planned. These are member- donated and operated labs that are available for testing of OPNFV software releases, the testing of OPNFV releases with third-party VNFs and other related systems. This has resulted in a global community that is engaged in the business of establishing interoperability, integration and standardization across the NFV solution space, in an open and transparent manner.
We invite all who are engaged in the current effort to transform the telecom infrastructure – users and suppliers – to join us at OPNFV and develop the tools to help accelerate this transformation. The journey continues and we are proceeding full speed ahead.
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