Network Functions Virtualisation



In November 2012 seven of the world's leading telecoms network operators selected ETSI to be the home of the Industry Specification Group for NFV.

Now, nearly four years and 40 published documents later, we see a large community working intensely to continue developing the required standards for NFV as well as sharing their experiences of NFV implementation and testing.

The membership of ISG NFV has grown to over 290 individual companies including 38 of the world's major service providers as well as representatives from both telecoms and IT vendors.

The 2014 NFV Activity Report and the full list of NFV members and participants are available on the ETSI NFV Portal.

Building the Software-Defined Network

Modern telecoms networks contain an ever increasing variety of proprietary hardware. The launch of new services or network reconfiguration demands the installation of yet more equipment that in turn requires additional floor space, power and trained maintenance staff.

As the innovation cycles continue to accelerate, hardware-based appliances rapidly reach end of life. Simply having a hard-wired network with boxes dedicated to single functions is not the optimal way to achieve dynamic service offerings.

In the same way that applications are supported by dynamically configurable and fully automated cloud environments, so too must network design and implementation become more agile and able to respond automatically and on-demand to the dynamic 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.

Upcoming events

  • NFVIFA#33, 20-23 June, Sophia Antipolis, FR
  • NFV#15, 19-23 September, Sophia Antipolis, FR
  • NFVIFA#37, 25-28 October, Sophia Antipolis, FR
  • NFV#16, 12-15 December, Shenzhen, RPC
  • NFV#17, 21-24 February 2017, location TBC, Europe

Our Role & Activities


The ETSI NFV ISG undertakes work in 2-year phases as agreed by the ETSI Director General.

Documents published during Phase 1 were referenced as ‘Release 1’ with subsequent tranches referenced as ‘Release 2’, ‘Release 3’ etc. Release 2 development is almost finalized (target = end Q2 2016) whilst Release 3 has just started.

Looking forward, the ISG 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.

NFV Phase 2

The need to produce normative specifications that can be used to enable end-to-end interworking of equipment and services forms a fundamental part ISG NFV Phase 2.

To drive the NFV work forward across the industry there is a strong demand to work with a number of key standards groups, open source communities and wider industry, in a coordinated way.

The recent work of ISG NFV is well known, but the future direction of the standards is currently being shaped in various forms across Europe and the USA as the industry and ETSI drives the NFV promise into network reality.

ETSI Industry Specification Groups are open to ETSI members and non-members alike, with different conditions depending on ETSI membership status. If you would like to participate in the NFV ISG, please contact the NFV support team.

NFV Phase 1

In the 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 exist, into industry services and products
  • to simultaneously 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:

  • to define the requirements and architecture for the virtualisation of network functions
  • to address the technical challenges which include:
    • ensuring that virtualised network platforms will be simpler to operate
    • achieving high performance virtualised network appliances which are portable between different hardware vendors, and with different hypervisors
    • achieving co-existence with legacy hardware-based network platforms whilst enabling an efficient migration path to fully virtualised network platforms which re-use network operator BSS and OSS
    • management and orchestration of virtual network appliances (particularly alongside legacy management systems) while ensuring security from attack and configuration errors
    • maintaining network stability and service levels without degradation during appliance load and relocation
    • ensuring the appropriate level of resilience to hardware and software failures
    • enabling the creation of virtual network appliances which will run, ideally without recompilation, on any hypervisor and hardware configuration, and integrate “on the fly” into the network operators’ existing EMS, NMS, OSS, BSS and orchestration systems
    • requirement and gap analysis for future technical specifications & standards within ETSI and other relevant standards development organizations

An important milestone in the first two years was the publication of the first five ETSI Group Specifications (GSs) documents (October 2013).

Four of them were designed to align understanding about NFV across the industry. They cover NFV use cases, requirements, the architectural framework, and terminology.

The last document defined a framework for co-ordinating and promoting public demonstrations of Proof of Concept (PoC) platforms illustrating key aspects of NFV.


The following is a list of the 20 latest published ETSI specifications on Network Functions Virtualisation.

A full list of related standards in the public domain is accessible via the ETSI standards search. Via this interface you can also subscribe for alerts on updates of ETSI specifications.

For work in progress see the ETSI Work Programme on the Portal.

Standard No. Standard title.
GS NFV-REL 003 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Reliability; Report on Models and Features for End-to-End Reliability
GS NFV-IFA 004 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Acceleration Technologies; Management Aspects Specification
GS NFV-IFA 005 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Management and Orchestration; Or-Vi reference point - Interface and Information Model Specification
GS NFV-IFA 006 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Management and Orchestration; Vi-Vnfm reference point - Interface and Information Model Specification
GS NFV-IFA 003 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Acceleration Technologies; vSwitch Benchmarking and Acceleration Specification
GS NFV-SEC 006 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Security Guide; Report on Security Aspects and Regulatory Concerns
GS NFV-SEC 010 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); NFV Security; Report on Retained Data problem statement and requirements
GS NFV-REL 004 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Assurance; Report on Active Monitoring and Failure Detection
GS NFV-IFA 010 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Management and Orchestration; Functional requirements specification
GS NFV-TST 001 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Pre-deployment Testing; Report on Validation of NFV Environments and Services
GS NFV-IFA 002 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Acceleration Technologies; VNF Interfaces Specification
GS NFV-EVE 004 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Virtualisation Technologies; Report on the application of Different Virtualisation Technologies in the NFV Framework
GS NFV-EVE 003 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Ecosystem; Report on NFVI Node Physical Architecture Guidelines for Multi-Vendor Environment
GS NFV-REL 005 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Accountability; Report on Quality Accountability Framework
GS NFV-SEC 009 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); NFV Security; Report on use cases and technical approaches for multi-layer host administration
GS NFV-EVE 005 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Ecosystem; Report on SDN Usage in NFV Architectural Framework
GS NFV-IFA 001 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Acceleration Technologies; Report on Acceleration Technologies & Use Cases
GS NFV-REL 002 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Reliability; Report on Scalable Architectures for Reliability Management
GS NFV-SEC 004 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); NFV Security; Privacy and Regulation; Report on Lawful Interception Implications
GS NFV-SEC 002 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); NFV Security; Cataloguing security features in management software

In addition to the published documents the ISG NFV makes all of the draft deliverables available for industry comment.

Phase 1 has been successfully completed and all documents were published early January 2013. Phase 2 is well under way with over 30 new Work Items. In addition to the technical work programme, members are focusing on 3 other areas: the start of the feature collection, the NFV ISG beyond 2016 and whether there will be some stage 3 standardization.


News, comments and opinions from ETSI’s NFV Industry Specification Group

The direct link to refer to this blog is

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ETSI NFV Announcement on the Evolution of Its Release 2

The work program of ETSI NFV ISG for 2015 was very ambitious, with a majority of activities committed to conclude during this first year of the ISG two-year renewed term, and intended to produce the set of normative documents that were generally referred as ETSI NFV Release 2.

Many of these activities are completed or just awaiting the completion of the last procedural steps to be officially published. This announcement provides a brief report on these accomplishments, structured around an introduction to the completed (informative) reports and a preview of the Release 2 description, which we expect to publish by May 2016.

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NFV prepares the standards evolution

NFV#13 took place on 16-19 February in Dublin, Ireland at the impressive Croke Park stadium, the fourth largest stadium in Europe.

Thanks to the hosts Cobham Wireless and the sponsors OPENET, ETSI NFV ISG members were treated to a pre-event workshop on Monday 15 February that covered the state of the art of NFV initiatives, with presentations from Intel, Telefonica, Luxoft, Stratus Technologies and EANTC.

The week that followed was certainly intense for the 210 delegates – although the work was somewhat balanced by a very pleasant social event in the Croke Park Player’s Lounge.

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Another step towards an open NFV ecosystem

ETSI NFV descends on the Big Apple for NFV #12

The 12th meeting of the ETSI Network Functions Virtualisation Industry Specification Group (ETSI NFV ISG) was held in Jersey City, NJ (USA), just across the Hudson River from New York City. Surrounded by the stunning Manhattan skyline, the locale offered an excellent venue for the Industry Group driving the NFV ecosystem.

Manhattan Skyline, from Jersey City, NJ, location for NFV #12

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NFV ISG tutorials filmed at NFV#11 in San Jose

During their 11th Plenary in San Jose, California, ETSI ISG NFV Officials and Working Group chairmen provided an overview of the group's achievements to date (Phase 1: 2013-2014) together with a snapshot of the ongoing Phase 2 work due for completion early 2016.

This was done in the form of a set of 6 short tutorials, each presented by a Working Group Official. Telecom TV was present and filmed these tutorials which are now available as a good overview for NFV newcomers.

See the 6 videos here...

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Public Availability of ETSI NFV ISG drafts

ETSI NFV Announcement on Document Availability

During the first six months of its second phase, the ETSI NFV ISG has been actively working on the development of normative specifications for the reference points identified by the NFV Architecture Framework, addressing the interoperability goals that constitute its key objective, and on continuing the exploration of NFV technical aspects in the essential areas identified during the inception of this second phase. This has been performed in a framework of continuous and tight collaboration with those external bodies (SDOs and open-source projects) most directly concerned with NFV technologies.

One important milestone in this development, aimed to facilitate open collaboration with external bodies and the industry and academia at large, has been the decision to make all NFV draft documents publicly available (see NFV ISG Open area).

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ETSI NFV: Collaboration (and more Collaboration)

ETSI NFV returns to Silicon Valley, in conjunction with the NFV/SDN community

Summertime is typically a time for holidays, family, and a break from the hectic pace of our professional lives. But not in Silicon Valley, where the 11th meeting was held for the ETSI Network Functions Virtualisation Industry Specification Group (NFV ISG). In fact, with the OpenDaylight Summit, MEF Quarterly meeting also being held in the same week, it remains as busy as ever.

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ETSI NFV Success Measures

NFV is happening and it’s big !! 

Some metrics were shared during NFV#10. And the result is amazing!

  • 100s of worldwide industry members and participants have produced more than 6000 contributions since day#1
  • More importantly Phase#1 specifications are being leveraged for real implementations
  • And we have accepted more than 35 multi-vendor POCs that prove NFV is happening for real!
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NFV Demonstrates Openness and Global Reach

First China Meeting, Open Source Approach on Document Transparency and Availability

Hainan Island, the southern-most tip of China, was the tropical setting of the 10th meeting (NFV #10) of the ETSI Network Functions Virtualisation Industry Specification Group (NFV ISG) held in mid-May. The ~200 participants descending upon Sanya found it to be a spacious and hospitable venue to collaborate and experience the best of what China has to offer.

nfv10-Welcome   nfv10-landscape
nfv10-beach   nfv10-music

Figure 1  Beautiful Sanya, site of NFV #10 hosted by Huawei

Source: Klaus Martiny, DT (Vice-Chair, NFV Network Operators Council)

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What is new in the world of the ETSI ISG NFV…

Last week three events took place at the NOKIA headquarters in Helsinki: the NFV ISG leadership team met for a day to discuss progress and future direction for the ISG, the IFA Working Group held a 1-day joint session with 3GPP SA 5 to align their activities and this was followed by an IFA Working Group interim meeting.

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Full Steam Ahead for NFV in Phase 2

You might need to refresh the page to be able to view the video.

Prague in February was the setting of the 9th meeting of the ETSI Network Functions Virtualisation Industry Specification Group (NFV ISG). Perhaps it was the delicious beer (Czechs consume more beer per capita than any other nation in the world), rich heritage (over 1,100 years) or prominence (largest city and capital of the Czech Republic, and one of the most visited cities in all of Europe). The 270 participants descending upon Prague found it to be inviting, and an ideal venue to collaborate.

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NFV Phase 2 begins

New leadership, organization, and renewed focus on implementation

While much of the country was coping with sub-freezing temperatures, the ETSI Network Functions Virtualization Industry Specification Group (NFV ISG) convened its 8th and final meeting under its original charter in the desert sunshine in Scottsdale. Intel graciously hosted the meeting, arranging excellent accommodations and hospitality throughout the week.

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Video from 1st ETSI NFV PoC ZONE, October 2014 in Düsseldorf

Video from 1st ETSI NFV PoC ZONE, October 2014 in Düsseldorf


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The first ETSI NFV PoC ZONE was run from 15th to 17th of October during the SDN & Open Flow World Congress in Düsseldorf, Germany.

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Successful NFV interim meetings held at ETSI as the ISG continues to push forward

Around 100 delegates made the trip to Sophia Antipolis in late September.

Summary of the week

The ISG made good progress toward closing the few remaining open issues in the current release of documents. Of the 167 open issues originally identified, 136 are now closed (about 81%).

With a few weeks remaining to NFV#8 in Arizona, we should be in good shape to close the remaining issues by the opening of the meeting. While closing open issues remains our number one priority, issues that cannot be resolved can be captured in the ISG gap analysis document for resolution in ongoing work.

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Enabling the Transition

Introducing OPNFV, an integral step towards NFV adoption

Two years later

Next month marks the two year anniversary of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), which has taken the industry by storm and transformed the relationship between major operators and network standards.

As we plan to return to Germany next month for the SDN and OpenFlow World Congress, the event where the landmark NFV White Paper was published in October, 2012 and the ETSI NFV initiative was announced, many in the NFV community are reexamining a fundamental goal that has guided NFV from the beginning - Openness.

Openness means many things to different communities, as Matt Palmer summarized in his series: Defining Openness for Open SDN and NFV: A Primer for Network Operators.

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Main players provide feedback at NFV#7 – videos online

Enjoy watching the interviews by key players filmed at NFV#7

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Repositioning for success at ETSI NFV#7

New leadership, renewed charter, and an enhanced structure to facilitate the transition from requirements to implementation

Santa Clara, CA, USA

The future of ICT may learn from the past

Wandering through the Computer History Museum in Mountain View (at the social gathering of the ETSI Network Functions Virtualisation Industry Specification Group - ETSI NFV ISG), was like a trip down memory lane.

International Business Machines (IBM) mainframes (e.g., 360/370, which I spent many a night working on at the University of Missouri in the 1970s), Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) minicomputers (I was a systems manager for the PDP-11 and VAX-11/780 at McDonnell Douglas in the 1980s), and a slew of computers, calculators, and gadgets whose manufacturers have faded from memory.

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How NFV changes the business of telecoms

A new article about how NFV changes the business of telecoms, written by Luis Jorge Romero, Director General of ETSI, has been published on Global Telecom Business, read the full article.

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The (near-term) future for NFV

Expect constructive change as NFV continues to evolve

Okinawa, Japan

G8 okinawaSettling into the meeting rooms at the sixth gathering of the ETSI Network Functions Virtualisation Industry Specification Group (ETSI NFV ISG), we were impressed by the photographs bearing actual signatures of the leaders of the G8 who attended the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit back in July, 2000.

At that meeting, the G8 issued the Okinawa Charter on Global Information Society, which carries the objective of delivering “greater prosperity and deeper peace of mind, and greater stability”.

While NFV may not wield such widespread influence, the 260+ participants at the meeting are intent on transforming the entire telecommunications industry, and could change the world like other telecommunications revolutions through the decades.

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Proposed NFV Research Agenda for 2014

The TSC#23 meeting of the NFV ISG endorsed the proposed 2014 NFV research agenda aimed at providing guidance to the global research community on topics of relevance to the NFV industry. 

Academic researchers and workshop organizers are encouraged to consider these topics as a source of inspiration for their research efforts. It is hoped that the results of research inspired by these topics will be useful in understanding the fundamental constraints of technology available, and assisting industry to evaluate alternative approaches.

Topics include (but are not limited to):

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NFV related webinars & video available


The links for the following webinars are available here


  • Progressing NFV – live April 2, 2014 - Don Clarke, Chair, Network Operator Council, ETSI NFV ISG; Head of Network Evolution Innovation, BT
  • Making NFV Work – live March 23 2014 - Francisco-Javier Ramón, Chair PER Expert Group, ETSI ISG NFV; Head of Network Virtualisation, GCTO, Telefónica
  • Defining NFV – live April 3rd 2013 - Dr. Prodip Sen, Chair, ETSI NFV ISG; Director, Network Architecture, Verizon Network & Technology

Video – live on 17th October 2013 - Diego López, Technical Manager, ETSI ISG NFV, Head of Technology Exploration, Telefónica I+D

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Happy Birthday ETSI NFV!

Enjoy the video of the NFV social event in Malaga – celebrating the achievements of year 1 and looking at the hopes and plans for year 2

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Embracing NFV: Open Networking and Open Daylight Summits

Over the past few weeks two major events took place in the space of Software Defined Networking: the first was the Open Daylight Summit (ODS) and most recently the fourth installment of the Open Networking Summit (ONS). Both events were held in the Heart of Silicon Valley in the Santa Clara Convention Center.

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NFV one year later

ETSI NFV ISG leadership weighs in on the state of NFV

The fifth meeting of the ETSI Network Functions Virtualization Industry Specification Group (ETSI NFV ISG) marked the one year anniversary of NFV, and a significant turning point for the organization.

ETSI members and delegates descended upon one of the oldest, and southernmost large cities in Europe- Malaga, Spain for NFV#5, as the NFV ISG took another step towards implementation. Interest in NFV remains sky high; meeting participation was capped at 250, and over-subscribed, for the capacity of the venue.

Way back in January, 2013, a group of NFV visionaries of 60 organizations, held the first meeting of the ISG at ETSI HQ on the Cote d’Azur. Since that time, the ISG has made considerable progress:

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Don Clarke speaks to The Register on NFV

Don Clarke, chairman of the NFV ISG Network Operator Council (NOC) was recently interviewed by The Register in an article providing an overview of the NFV concept.

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Video from NFV#4, October 2013 at Sunnyvale

Special report - ETSI shaves years off NFV development time.

Watch the video:


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Highlights of the ISG#04 meeting

The fourth ETSI ISG NFV plenary meeting was held on the 30th October to 1st November 2013, in Sunnyvale, USA, and was kindly hosted by Juniper and co-sponsored by IBM.

A new ISG NFV record was set, seeing 350 delegates participating to the busy NFV plenary sessions. Indeed such is the popularity of the NFV meetings especially when held in Silicon Valley, that registration had to be capped. Growth of membership is still high, and 14 additional companies joined ISG NFV in the weeks preceding the NFV#04 meeting, taking total membership to 170 individual companies.

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