AT&T, Sprint, Ericsson, Cisco, Nokia and more join forces for open-source NFV effort

A broad array of wireless carriers and network vendors have joined together to create an open-source group to accelerate deployments of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) under the auspices of the Linux Foundation. The group, called the Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV), aims to deliver a carrier-grade, integrated, open-source reference platform in an effort to create new NFV products and services.

The group's founding "platinum" members include stalwarts AT&T (NYSE: T), Brocade, China Mobile, Cisco Systems, Dell, Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC), Hewlett-Packard, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Juniper Networks, NEC, Nokia Networks (NYSE:NOK), NTT DoCoMo, Red Hat, Telecom Italia and Vodafone.

"Silver-level" founding members include 6WIND, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), ARM Holdings, Broadcom, CableLabs, Cavium, CenturyLink, Ciena, Citrix, ClearPath Networks, ConteXtream, Coriant, Cyan, Dorado Software, Ixia, Metaswitch Networks, Mirantis, Orange, Sandvine, Sprint (NYSE: S) and Wind River.

Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation, said in a statement that OPNFV will bring together carriers, cloud and infrastructure vendors, developers and users "to define a new type of reference platform for the industry, integrating existing open source building blocks with new components and testing that accelerates development and deployment of NFV. We are excited to host this important industry initiative that will provide a common foundation for the future of networks."

Broadly speaking, NFV will enable carriers to virtualize hardware functions and turn them into software within their networks. By running commodity hardware that uses customized software, carriers can cut costs. Software-defined networking, or SDN, enables carriers to then use software to control network functions and policies in the cloud.

Zemlin yold Light Reading that the OPNFV group will build on other open-source projects, including OpenDaylight, Linux and OpenStack, but instead of focusing on specific components of platforms, as those do, OPNFV will concentrate on the underlying architecture for NFV.

The group notes that applications from carriers have different demands than most IT applications, so creating an open platform integrating multiple open-source components and ensuring continuous testing for carrier-grade service performance is critical to accelerating NFV deployments. According to a statement from the group, the goal is to ensure consistency, performance and interoperability among multiple open-source components, and OPNFV will work with upstream projects such as OpenStack "to coordinate continuous integration and testing while filling development gaps."

The initial focus of OPNFV will be on building NFV infrastructure (NFVI) and Virtualized Infrastructure Management. The group wants to develop an integrated and tested open-source platform that can be used to explore and demonstrate core NFV functionality.

Although it won't develop standards, OPNFV said it will work closely with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute industry specification group (ISG), among others, "to drive consistent implementation of standards for an open NFV reference platform."

For more:
- see this release
- see this Light Reading article

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