Network Functions Virtualisation
NFV in ETSI
Founded in November 2012 by seven of the world's leading telecoms network operators ISG NFV became the home of the Industry Specification Group for NFV.
Four years and over 50 publications later, the ISG NFV community has evolved through several phases, its publications have moved from pre-standardization studies to detailed specifications (see Release 2 and Release 3) and the early Proof of Concepts (PoCs) efforts have evolved and led to interoperability events (Plugtests). This large community (290+ companies including 38 of the world's major service providers) is still working intensely to develop the required standards for NFV as well as sharing their experiences of NFV implementation and testing.
ISG NFV, like any other ETSI Industry Specification Group is open to ETSI members and non-members alike, with different conditions depending on ETSI membership status. If you would like to participate in this work, please contact the NFV support team.
Building the Software-Defined Network
Modern telecoms networks contain an ever increasing variety of proprietary hardware. The launch of new services often demands network reconfiguration and on-site installation of new equipment which in turn requires additional floor space, power, and trained maintenance staff.
The innovation cycles accelerate and require greater flexibility and dynamism than hardware-based appliances allow. Hard-wired network with single functions boxes are tedious to maintain, slow to evolve, and prevent service providers from offering dynamic services.
In the same way that applications are supported by dynamically configurable and fully automated cloud environments, virtualized network functions allow networks to be agile and capable to respond automatically to the needs of the traffic and services running over it.
Key enabling technologies for this vision include SDN (Software Defined Networking) and NFV (Network Functions Virtualisation). SDN and NFV are complementary but increasingly co-dependent in order for the benefits of software-defined networking to be fully realized.
ETSI NFV ISG undertakes work in 2-year phases.
Documents published during the first phase (2013-2014) were considered as pre-normative studies, and are sometimes erroneously referred to as 'Release 1’.
After the first 2-year 'Phase', the ISG NFV community continued to work together (2015-2016) and decided to develop normative specifications with more formalism. They started to plan the content for their future releases. Release 2 development ended Q4 2016 when Release 3 started.
Going forward, ISG NFV will continue to develop specifications that meet the needs of the industry, and maintain its published documents. Progress in the industry will be monitored, including feedback from implementation, and the identification of gaps will be addressed.
In its first 2-year phase, the initial focus of the NFV ISG was:
- to drive convergence on network operator requirements for NFV
- to include applicable standards, where they already existed, into industry services and products
- to develop new technical requirements with the goal of stimulating innovation and fostering an open ecosystem of vendors
The original vision outlined in the joint-operator white paper published in October 2012 was:
- Defining requirements and architecture for the virtualisation of network functions
- Addressing technical challenges of network virtualization, which included:
- simple to operate, manage, and orchestrate (particularly alongside legacy management systems)
- high performing and portable virtualised network appliances
- co-existence with legacy hardware
- secured against attack and configuration errors
- stability of service and network during appliance load and relocation
- resilience to hardware and software failures
An important milestone was the publication in October 2013 of the first five ETSI Group Specifications (GSs). Four of them were designed to align understanding about NFV across the industry. They covered NFV use cases (NFV 001), virtualization requirements (NFV 004), an architectural framework (NFV 002), and terminology (NFV 003). The fifth document (NFV-PER 002) defined a framework for co-ordinating and promoting public demonstrations of Proof of Concept platforms (PoC) illustrating key aspects of NFV.
In 2014, the publication pace accelerated with the release of 11 other documents:
- NFV-INF 001 v1.1.1 "Infrastructure Overview"
- NFV-INF 003 v1.1.1 "Infrastructure Compute Domain"
- NFV-INF 004 v1.1.1 "Infrastructure Hypervisor Domain"
- NFV-INF 005 v1.1.1 "Infrastructure Network Domain"
- NFV-INF 007 v1.1.1 "Meth. to desc. Interfaces and Abstractions"
- NFV-INF 010 v1.1.1 "NFV Service Quality Metrics"
- NFV-MAN 001 v1.1.1 "Management and Orchestration"
- NFV-REL 001 v1.1.1 "Resiliency Requirements"
- NFV-SEC 001 v1.1.1 "Security Problem Statement"
- NFV-SEC 003 v1.1.1 "Security and Trust Guidance"
- NFV-SWA 001 v1.1.1 "Virtual Network Function Architecture"
This first set of documents closed the first 2-year phase of ISG NFV. At the time they were written the ETSI NFV community was considering these documents as “pre-standardization” work. They helped the industry to build a culture and share a common understanding on the important concepts to master when working in network virtualization.
Although these document were not developed with the formalism of standard specifications, they are very valuable and constitute a large documentation basis for the reader.
2015-2016: Release 2
The need to produce normative specifications to enable end-to-end interworking of equipment and services formed a fundamental part of this phase.
To fulfil that need, the ISG decided to group most of its normative work into a release: "NFV Release 2". Release 2 is a subset of the published documents during the 2015-2016 phase, it was defined by selecting and prioritizing a set of key capabilities for NFV and specifying them up to the level of requirements, interfaces, and information models.
As part of Release 2, the ISG NFV specified functional requirements applicable to the VIM, VNFM and NFVO functional blocks, and requirements applicable to the reference points. In addition, requirements, interfaces and information models related to different capabilities have been specified, including:
- Management of virtualised resources (IFA 005, IFA 006, and IFA 010)
- Virtualised resources information management (IFA 005, IFA 006, and IFA 010)
- Fault and performance management of virtualised resources (IFA 005, IFA 006, and IFA 010)
- Lifecycle management of VNFs (IFA 007, IFA 008, IFA 010, SOL002, and SOL003)
- Fault, configuration and performance management of VNFs (IFA 007, IFA 008, IFA 010, SOL002, and SOL003)
- Lifecycle management of Network Services (IFA 010, and IFA 013)
- Fault and performance management of Network Services (IFA 010, and IFA 013)
- Package and software image management (IFA 005, IFA 006, IFA 007, IFA 010, IFA 011, IFA 013, and SOL003)
- VNF Descriptor – VNF information modelling (IFA 011, and SOL001)
- Network Service descriptors – NS information modelling (IFA 014, and SOL001)
- Virtualised resources capacity management (IFA 005, and IFA 010)
- Hardware-independent acceleration (IFA 002, IFA 003, IFA 004, and IFA 010)
- A UML Information Model (IFA015) that consolidates the Information Elements developed in all other reference points specs (IFA004 to 008 and IFA011 to 14)
- Information modelling guidelines (IFA016, IFA017)
2017-2018: NFV Release 3
NFV Release 3 is under way: the "feature collection" initiative led to an initial set of 18 New Work Items (future publications) being approved as part of this third release, although other documents could be created and added during the development.
A "Release 3 Definition" identifies the work items that will be addressed by the ISG in the coming months.
As part of Release 3 and other release-independent work items the ISG NFV is currently engaged in:
- Information modelling (IFA016, IFA017 and IFA024)
- End-to-end multi-site services management (IFA022)
- Additional considerations on management and orchestration (IFA020, IFA021 and EVE009)
- Acceleration technologies (IFA018 and IFA019)
- Charging, billing and accounting (EVE008)
- License management (EVE010)
- Security analysis and management (SEC013, SEC014)
- Reliability and availability considerations (REL007, REL008)
- DevOps and continuous integration (TST006)
- Testing (TST004, TST007)
- Policy management (IFA023)
- Identification of "Touchpoints" with information Models of other organisations (IFA024)
NFV specifications publicly available
Find related NFV specifications in the public domain via the standards search:
where you can also filter and subscribe for alerts on updates of specifications.
Work in progress
For work in progress see the ETSI Work Programme on the Portal.
News, comments and opinions from ETSI’s NFV Industry Specification Group
The direct link to refer to this blog is http://www.etsi.org/technologies-clusters/technologies/nfv?tab=3