Big-name NFV vendors form interoperability initiative focused on real-world apps

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Four marquee NFV network vendors – Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia – have signed an MoU to launch an initiative to conduct interoperability testing for NFV with a focus on specific real-world applications that CSPs plan to use the technology for.

The general goal of the new NFV Interoperability Testing Initiative (NFV-ITI) – which will support the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) project – is to help CSPs address challenges related to NFV deployment and cloud transformation within multi-vendor network environments.

According to the joint press release, the main objective of NFV-ITI is to “promote competition and create industry alignment on generic principles for NFV interoperability testing and support for specific customer situations … to accelerate the commercial implementations, and to reduce the time-to-market for new applications and services.”

There are already a number of NFV interoperability projects, labs and initiatives in play – some of them also vendor-driven – but the focus and goals of each are different, the release says:

All existing NFV interoperability related testing activities are triggered by different needs of the industry, including the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV Testing WG, OPNFV testing projects, Network Vendor Interoperability Testing (NVIOT) testing, and the New IP Agency (NIA) interoperability testing.

Complementing all existing NFV interoperability testing activities in the industry, NFV-ITI will focus on testing interoperability configurations of commercial NFV solutions actually used in the communication services providers’ networks.

The NFV-ITI statement doesn’t say what kinds of real-world NFV apps or services it has in mind. However, an August report from IHS Markit found that CSPs aiming to monetize NFV are focusing on enterprise services such as virtual CPE services, as well as service chaining, virtual network platform as a service (VNPaaS), vNPaaS for IoT and consumer home environments, among others.

The NFV-ITI – which will be aligned with the ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group and the OPNFV project – says it will “recommend generic principles, including interoperability test cases, test criteria, processes, methods, guidelines, templates and testing tools, and will also apply best practices from all existing interoperability testing activities in the industry, such as NVIOT forum efforts.”

The group also said that any NFV vendor can join the NFV-ITI by ratifying the MoU.

According to a report released last week by Technology Business Research (TBR), NFV and SDN are primed for rapid adoption by most major Tier-1 operators over the next couple of years now that early adopters like AT&T and Orange have demonstrated tangible real-world payoffs.

Asia-Pacific operators are a little behind the curve on NFV, with only 20% of TBR survey respondents confirming adoption of NFV this year. However, the other 80% said they will deploy NFV in the next one to two years, TBR says.

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