Network Functions Virtualisation



In November 2012 seven of the world's leading telecoms network operators initiated the creation of the ETSI Industry Specification Group for NFV.

Now, almost two years later a large community of people and companies are moving the industry rapidly forward on the topic of Network Virtualisation and are sharing their experiences of NFV development.

The membership of ISG NFV has grown to over 220 individual companies including network operators, Telecoms and IT vendors.

The full list of NFV members and participants is available on the ETSI NFV Portal.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN)

Modern Telecoms networks contain an ever increasing variety of proprietary hardware. The launch of a new service demands the installation of equipment that requires additional floor space, power supply, 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 and NFV, two complimentary concepts that have been promoted by both the IT and the telecoms industries.

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Dowload the Network Functions Virtualization Technology Leaflet

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  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

NFV Phase 1

The initial focuses of ISG NFV were:

  • 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 delivered its first specifications in October 2013. 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-PER 001 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); NFV Performance & Portability Best Practises
GS NFV 001 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Use Cases
GS NFV 002 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Architectural Framework
GS NFV 003 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Terminology for Main Concepts in NFV
GS NFV 004 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Virtualisation Requirements
GS NFV-PER 002 Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Proofs of Concepts; Framework


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

The direct link to refer to this blog is

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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.

First NFV meeting held in Asia

The meeting was graciously hosted by KDDI R&D Laboratories and NTT on the lush and beautiful islands of Okinawa. The host organization was excellent, facilities outstanding and food delicious and meticulously presented. It was the region’s rainy season but even that couldn’t dampen our resolve.

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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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