Nokia publishes open template for automated VNF lifecycle management

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Nokia has published what it says is the industry’s first complete templating system for VNF lifecycle management, designed to streamline and automate VNF onboarding, integration and lifecycle management processes.

With current methods for managing VNF lifecycles (instantiating, monitoring, repairing, scaling, updating and backing-up) tending to be costly, cumbersome and time-consuming. Nokia has developed an open templating system, aligned with the latest industry standards and open-source tools, to streamline these processes.

The template specifications allow service providers and VNF suppliers to take advantage of the automated lifecycle management capabilities of the Nokia CloudBand Application Manager, enabling them to integrate more VNFs faster while reducing the cost and time required to manage VNFs in the cloud.

Nokia’s open templating system builds upon the ETSI NFV specifications (IFA011 and IFA014), Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA) specifications and OpenStack tools. It provides key functionality to service providers, including VNF definitions for better integration and added support of complex structures, and eliminates the need for customization when providing VNF information to a generic VNF Manager and NFV Orchestrator.

By supporting both Nokia and third-party VNFs, the system gives service providers a much wider selection of virtualized network services they can offer subscribers.

Nokia is currently collaborating with fellow members of ETSI and TOSCA to complete development of VNF templating standards to benefit the entire industry.

“One of the goals of NFV has been to foster an open ecosystem of VNF suppliers to give service providers maximum choice in the capabilities they integrate, and to offer subscribers the best available services,” said Ron Haberman, head of Nokia’s CloudBand product unit. “By creating an open system that improves the management of VNFs, we aim to make it easier for service providers to quickly add new value-added services to differentiate their offerings, generate new revenue opportunities, and deliver better user experiences.”

Caroline Chappell, principal analyst at Analysys Mason, commented that VNF onboarding is one of the major challenges the industry must solve to ensure the long-term success of NFV.

“This will require a standards-based approach that automates the onboarding process and minimizes its complexity,” she said. “Publicly available guidelines that build upon ETSI NFV ISG and OASIS TOSCA work are an important resource for the market. They provide an exemplar for VNF onboarding that can help harmonize the fragmented vendor approaches we’ve seen so far.”

John Maddison, SVP of products and solutions at Fortinet, remarked that vendors are coming together to facilitate the integration, deployment and management of NFV, which is having a profound impact on service providers. “Virtual security functions are critical to these efforts and must be fully integrated and managed within these environments. Nokia’s open templating system facilitates this for Fortinet’s VNFs. With these tools, CloudBand and Fortinet can reduce complexity and streamline integration with multi-vendor solutions to ensure the success and security of NFV.”

Mallik Tatipamula, VP of service provider solutions at F5 Networks, added: “Achieving NFV’s true promise requires automated VNF lifecycle management in multi-vendor networks. This can be accomplished by using a consistent and predictable package that captures VNF operational aspects while reducing the learning curve. As a VNF supplier, F5 Networks needs flexibility and agility to deploy its virtualized network functions/services into multi-vendor networks. By documenting their open templating system based on de facto standards and standard tool sets, Nokia has made it practical to do so.”

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