New Open Platform for NFV Project Aims to Standardize How Entire Networks are Virtualized

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A new project known as Open Platform for NFV (or OPNFV) aimed at standardizing a way of virtualizing entire networks has just launched with the participation of nearly 40 founding member companies that represent all areas of IT from cloud computing to the telecom industry.

NFV, short for Network Function Virtualization, is essentially about virtualizing every part of the network, not just the software controller, which is the goal of Software-Defined Networking. NFV represents a growing field that envisions software being able to further deal with the complexity of massive networks and their underlying infrastructure.

According to the announcement this week from The Linux Foundation, OPNFV will be a carrier-grade, integrated, open-source reference platform that will essentially standardize how entire networks are virtualized.

Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin told Gigaom that NFV was originally seen as a way to help carriers better manage their complex networks, but it could also help enterprises with complex infrastructure.

NFV was a major topic of conversation at OpenStack Silicon Valley. The OpenDaylight project has been an NFV component for use in the OpenStack cloud orchestration platform. OpenStack Foundation executive director Jonathan Bryce told the WHIR (in a video interview) that NFV is becoming a rallying point for “telco service providers and telco operators around the world who are looking to modernize their infrastructure and the way that they provide voice services, data services, [and] messaging services.”

OPNFV will incorporate different open-source networking technologies such as OpenDaylight and OpenStack, and other key technologies that would be required to fit into a standardized OPNFV framework. By standardizing NFV protocols, OPNFV hopes to encourage the introduction of new products and services that are NFV compatible.

OpenDaylight Project executive director Neela Jacques said in a statement, “Open source is quickly becoming a de facto standard for cloud platforms (Openstack), SDN (OpenDaylight) and virtual switches (Open vSwitch) because it’s a neutral playing field that everyone can build on and integrate with. I see strong interest from carriers to leverage these open source projects for their NFV deployments and we look forward to collaborating with OPNFV as they work to stitch these technologies together.”

OPNFV founding members include Platinum members: AT&T, Brocade, China Mobile, Cisco, Dell, Ericsson, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Juniper Networks, NEC, Nokia Networks, NTT DOCOMO, Red Hat, Telecom Italia and Vodafone.

Silver founding members include 6WIND, Alcatel-Lucent, ARM, Broadcom, CableLabs, Cavium, CenturyLink, Ciena, Citrix, ClearPath Networks, ConteXtream, Coriant, Cyan, Dorado Software, Ixia, Metaswitch Networks, Mirantis, Orange, Sandvine, Sprint and Wind River.

Zemlin told Gigaom that OPNFV is aiming to release its platform by next year.

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