SDN and NFV’s functional alliance – the OSS game changer?

ONF is excited about this collaboration with ETSI as we believe this relationship can significantly contribute to the goals of the NFV ISG, which we have pledged to support since it was formed, as well as become a relevant source of requirements and use cases for the SDN community.”
Dan Pitt
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As described in an earlier news report, the team at ONF has formed a strategic partnership with ETSI to build a solution that allows SDN and NFV to co-habit. This was probably seen as a logical conclusion for many in the industry.

NFV and SDN Industry Alliance
The diagram above comes from ONF’s document, “OpenFlow-enabled SDN and Network Functions Virtualization. ONF Solution Brief” from February 17, 2014.

As this diagram indicates, NFV‘s Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) and Management and Orchestration (MANO) will be presented in the application layer. The diagram also indicates that NFV becomes a consumer of network services in SDN‘s control layer and subsequent infrastructure layer.

The diagram also provides a helpful insight into where OpenStack, OpenDaylight and OpenFlow fit within the combined framework. Of particular note is that in an IP network where legacy devices still coexist with SDN devices, OpenDaylight will have to drive southbound interfaces in addition to OpenFlow, which it is capable of doing.

For those who weren’t already aware, this construct (or any proprietary variations of) appears to be attracting too much funding from too many of the big network equipment vendors (and new innovators alike) to not appear in our networks of the near future. Take note!

The problem for us in OSS is that virtualised networks break the status quo for OSS in many different ways – service orchestration, the need for real-time resource visibility (physical and virtual), “programmability” of the network, flexibility / variability of virtual network functions (VNFs), network / service federation and orchestration of server / storage / network / security as well as changes in resource skill-sets, designs, process flows, to name but a few. An additional concern is that the complexities of implementing SDN / NFV within an operational (OSS / BSS) environment can’t counteract the proposed capital efficiencies of network virtualisation.

OSS, cloud, network and security have never been more intertwined and it takes the tripod theory to a new level. Finding resources whose expertise crosses these domains as well as IT and business-value is almost unheard of.

But when combined with the other massive structural changes that are, or will soon be, impacting OSS, I believe this alliance will help drag the OSS industry closer to the quantum leap that it needs to make to be more beneficial to customers.

We have some massive challenges ahead of us don’t we?

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