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 almost two years later a large community of experts are working intensely to develop the required standards for Network Functions Virtualisation as well as sharing their experiences of NFV development and early implementation.

The membership of ISG NFV has grown to over 230 individual companies including 37 of the world's major service providers as well as representatives from both telecoms and IT vendors.

The full list of NFV members and participants is 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 configuration 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.

Network design must be more agile and able to respond on-demand to the dynamic needs of the traffic and services running over it.

Key enabling technologies for this include SDN (Software Defined Networking) and NFV (Network Functions Virtualisation), two complimentary concepts that are being developed by both the IT and the telecoms industries.

Upcoming events

Our Role & Activities

NFV Phase 2

The need to produce normative specifications that can be used to enable end-to-end interworking of equipment and services forms part of the ongoing discussions for 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 and industry in a coordinated way.

The history of ISG NFV is known, but the future is currently being shaped in various meetings 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

The initial focus of the 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 scope 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 mis-configuration
    • 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 to the Phase 1 work was the publication of the first 5 deliverables in October 2013.

The documents (publicly available via include 4 ETSI Group Specifications (GSs) designed to align understanding about NFV across the industry. They cover NFV use cases, requirements, the architectural framework, and terminology.

The 5th GS defines a framework for co-ordinating and promoting public demonstrations of Proof of Concept (PoC) platforms illustrating key aspects of NFV.

The ISG NFV will reach the end of Phase 1 by December 2014, with the publication of the remaining sixteen deliverables.


NFV published the first batch of specifications in October 2013, after only 10 months of existence. The following is a list of recently published ETSI specifications on Network Functions Virtualisation. Please refer to the ETSI Work Programme to find further related specifications.

Standard No. Standard title.
GS NFV-INF 001 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Infrastructure Overview
GS NFV-INF 004 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Infrastructure; Hypervisor Domain
GS NFV-REL 001 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Resiliency Requirements
GS NFV 002 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Architectural Framework
GS NFV 003 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Terminology for Main Concepts in NFV
GS NFV-INF 003 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Infrastructure; Compute Domain
GS NFV-INF 005 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Infrastructure; Network Domain
GS NFV-INF 010 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Service Quality Metrics
GS NFV-MAN 001 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Management and Orchestration
GS NFV-SWA 001 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Virtual Network Functions Architecture
GS NFV-SEC 003 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); NFV Security; Security and Trust Guidance
GS NFV-PER 001 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); NFV Performance & Portability Best Practises
GS NFV-PER 002 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Proofs of Concept; Framework
GS NFV-INF 007 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Infrastructure; Methodology to describe Interfaces and Abstractions
GS NFV-SEC 001 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); NFV Security; Problem Statement
GS NFV 001 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Use Cases
GS NFV 004 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Virtualisation Requirements

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. Phase 2 is well under way. 28 new Work Items were approved at NFV#8 in Chandler, AZ, USA last November and members are now focusing on contributions for NFV#9 in Prague, 24-27 February.


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

The direct link to refer to this blog is

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Full Steam Ahead for NFV in Phase 2

Welcome screen for Prague meeting #9

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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