Nokia publishes templating system for VNF lifecycle management

Nokia NFV
Nokia’s CloudBand software portfolio allows service providers to mix and match vendors, including Nokia's competitors. Image: Nokia

Nokia today announced that it has published the industry's first complete templating system for VNF lifecycle management, designed to streamline and automate VNF onboarding, integration and lifecycle management processes.

By publishing the templating system, Nokia has aimed to enable carriers and third parties to take advantage of the automated lifecycle management of the Nokia Cloudband Application Manager, allowing them to integrate more VNFs faster while reducing the cost and time required to manage VNFs in the cloud.

In so doing, Nokia is basically trying to tackle an area that’s all too familiar in wireless tech: Standards that take too long to be ratified and operators eager to deploy next-generation gear.

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

Nokia has focused on certain principles and the first and most important one is complete ETSI NFV compliance, said Ron Haberman, head of Nokia’s CloudBand product unit.

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Unlike some other products out there in the market, “we focus on standard languages,” Haberman told FierceWirelessTech, declining to name rival vendors. “We did not invent our own language … but we use standard languages,” like OpenStack HOT, Ansible and TOSCA, so customers already know how to use the system even before they go through the documentation.

Nokia also brought compatibility with over 50 VNFs that it makes and which now work out of the box.

Using a proprietary language is tempting because the standards are progressing fairly slowly. But Nokia is now showing is that it’s possible to follow standards and use open languages to avoid proprietary solutions. HOT, for example, has been around for a long time and frequently adopted, as Haberman pointed out.

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Resorting to a proprietary language also forces third parties to learn one more language that’s only used for a particular product—as opposed to re-using something like HOT, which more people know. And while proprietary might be fast and easy, in the long run, it doesn’t provide the result that operators are going for with open solutions: Automation, reduction of costs and simplification of deployment.

"VNF onboarding is one of the major challenges the industry must solve to ensure the long-term success of NFV,” Caroline Chappell, principal analyst at Analysys Mason, said in a press release. “This will require a standards-based approach that automates the onboarding process and minimizes its complexity.

"Publicly available guidelines that build upon ETSI NFV ISG and OASIS TOSCA work are an important resource for the market," Chappell added. "They provide an exemplar for VNF onboarding that can help harmonize the fragmented vendor approaches we've seen so far."