NFV data models

I think the data modeling associated with NFV is absolutely critical for its success. Sadly, few of the players involved in NFV say much about their approach to the models…”
Tom Nolle
in another great blog called, “Comparing the NFV Data-Model Strategies of Key Vendors.”

Tom’s blog above articulates something that I’ve always found slightly amusing. New networking technologies always seem to focus on the parts that distribute the data around the network but the management layer always seems to be an afterthought. If we use SDN terminology, there is a big focus on the forwarding and control planes but the management plane doesn’t seem to capture the same level of attention (athough acknowledging the working groups that are trying to establish interoperability standards).

The reason I find it amusing is because without the management plane and the services it activates plus the operations it assures, none of these exciting technologies would be viable for implementation.

Tom’s blog looks specifically at the data model of NFV and how the leading NFV vendors are implementing manageability through:

  • Genesis (or origin of the model) – being underpinned by existing standards such as TMF’s SID model or TOSCA
  • Catalogability so that a service catalog of building blocks can be assembled into service templates that can then be instantiated into contracts
  • Process Integeration to link with typical processes (ie assurance, fulfilment, billing, etc)
  • Management data integration to retain a repository of collected data
  • Support for modeled legacy elements because these new virtualised platforms will need to coexist with the traditional networks that still have years of useful life to run

I couldn’t agree more with Tom’s closing statement in his blog, “What can we learn about NFV from this? Well, if the most important thing about NFV is something nobody is talking about and few have any support for at all, we’re not exactly in the happy place. There is no way you could do a responsible analysis of NFV implementations without addressing the points I’ve outlined here, which means without defining an explicit data model to describe services and resources. If you see an analysis without these points (whether from a vendor, the media, or an analyst) it’s incomplete, period.”

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