Initial NFV specs point way to virtualized telecom infrastructure

Not quite one year after a group of operators set the wheels in motion for implementation of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) in telecom networks, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has released the initial five specs for this radically different approach to networking.

"These documents clearly identify an agreed framework and terminology for NFV, which will help the industry to channel its efforts towards fully interoperable NFV solutions. This in turn will make it easier for network operators and NFV solutions providers to work together and will facilitate global economies of scale," said the standards body.

NFV promises to reduce time to market for new network services, slash capex and opex, as well as encourage innovation. Early NFV deployments are already underway and are expected to accelerate over the coming two years.

The new specs were produced in less than 10 months, given that ETSI's NFV industry specification group (ISG) did not commence work until January 2013. Plans for the ISG were announced simultaneously with the October 2012 publication of a white paper created by a group of network operators seeking availability of standard IT virtualization technology that would enable them to consolidate network equipment onto industry-standard high-volume servers, switches and storage located in data centers, network nodes or end-user premises.  

The five published documents available on the NFV portion of ETSI's website include four ETSI group specifications (GSs) that cover NFV use cases, requirements, the architectural framework and terminology. The fifth GS defines a framework for coordinating and promoting public demonstrations of proof-of-concept (PoC) platforms illustrating key aspects of NFV.

"The documents, and the PoC framework in particular, send a strong message that we want to encourage multi-party interoperability and the growth of an open ecosystem," said Prodip Sen of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), chairman of ETSI's NFV ISG.

NFV is often described in the same breath as software-defined networking (SDN), but the two are not the same or dependent upon one another, though they can be mutually beneficial.

More than 150 companies are working on NFV, including network operators, telecommunication equipment vendors, IT vendors and technology providers. ETSI said more NFV detailed specifications are scheduled for release in 2014.

For more:
- see this ETSI release

Related articles:
Virtualization creating a breeding ground for rival vendors
SDN, NFV will boost mobile virtualization spending to $6B by 2018
Jarich: SDN- a rose by any other name… still wouldn't be NFV
Report: Pace of NFV adoption takes industry by surprise

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