AT&T exec leading ETSI's NFV spec group as it targets interoperability, open-source technology

AT&T (NYSE: T) is far from alone in pushing to employ interoperable, open-source infrastructure in its future network architecture, as evidenced by the revised mission statement from the network functions virtualization (NFV) industry specification group (ISG), which is now headed by Steven Wright, lead member of the technical staff at AT&T.

The NFV ISG, part of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), held its seventh meeting earlier this month at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California's Silicon Valley, where attendees discussed the ISG's charter and mission. The group's original charter was slated to expire in January 2015. However, the charter was extended by two more years, shifting the effort into "NFV Phase 2," according to the group's official blog  in a post authored by Marc Cohn, a senior director for market development at Ciena.

NFV Phase 2 will focus on interoperability, formal testing and formalizing of dialogues with other industry and standards organizations, including projects developing open-source NFV implementations. Further, the ISG has revised its mission statement to state that the group aims to "facilitate the industry transformation and development of an open, interoperable, ecosystem through specification, implementation and deployment experience."

The NFV ISG's former chair, Prodip Sen of Hewlett-Packard, and vice chair, Uwe Michel of Deutsche Telekom, both stepped down in May, opening the way for Wright's election to the lead role during the NFV #7 event as well as the election of NTT DoCoMo's Tetsuya Nakamura as vice chair. Wright and Nakamura are expected to serve two-year terms.

"I look forward to assisting the ISG as it continues to progress towards its goal of an open NFV ecosystem with interoperable implementations," said Wright, who formerly led ETSI's NFV infrastructure working group.

Wright's new role heading up the NFV ISG dovetails nicely with AT&T's planned shift to an IP- and cloud-based network. The operator has sought to establish a beachhead in the virtualized communications environment of the future via its Domain 2.0 supplier program and User-Defined Network Cloud initiative, and open-source is seen as key to its plans.

Marian Croak, AT&T's senior vice president of Domain 2.0 architecture and advanced services development, previously told FierceWireless that the operator aims to get away from using specialized, proprietary hardware that is tightly coupled with vendor software and turn instead toward the use of "commodity-based hardware" that is deemed more flexible and adaptable.

The NFV ISG was officially initiated in January 2013 by seven leading telecoms network operators: AT&T, BT, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefonica and Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ). The group now includes 226 members, including 37 operators. Further, 23 proof of concepts (PoCs) have been accepted and the ISG has 15 active work items on its plate.

Cohn wrote that the ISG "continues to make solid progress on the NFV Release 1 baseline," with 11 new deliverables from multiple working groups having been made available for industry comment.

"I continue to be pleased with our progress towards NFV release 1, which is targeted towards December," said Diego Lopez, head of technology exploration, global CTO unit, Telefonica I&D, who also serves as NFV technical manager and chair of the NFV technical steering committee. "Each of our technical working groups is making tremendous progress as we worked towards a solid technical baseline, which is critical as NFV Phase 2 gets underway," he added.

A late September meeting of NFV ISG leadership will discuss the proposals and suggestions for NFV Phase 2. The ISG's next full meeting, NFV #8, will run Nov. 17-21 in Chandler, Ariz.

For more:
- see this ETSI blog entry
- see this Light Reading article

Related articles:
AT&T adds Alcatel-Lucent, Fujitsu to list of vendors backing its SDN, NFV efforts
NFV will soon be pervasive, though standards issues loom
Telefonica, DoCoMo aim to steer the NFV bandwagon
Marian Croak on why and how AT&T is moving to SDN, NFV and an all-IP future with Domain 2.0
AT&T's Kris Rinne explains how 'User-Defined Network Cloud' will change carrier's network architecture
AT&T launches user-defined cloud strategy