NFV#20 - The “landing” of NFV Release 2, and the “taking off” of Release 3

The ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group (ISG) met on 4-8 December 2017 for its twentieth plenary meeting (NFV#20) at ETSI Headquarters in Sophia-Antipolis, France. This time, the breezy and sunny Provence & Cote d’Azur in the spring changed to a rather chilly and icy setting, but nothing that our brave ETSI NFV ISG delegates could not handle perfectly with heated discussions and some extra coffee (or tea).

As reported in previous posts, the NFV ISG has been planning and progressing the set of Release 3 feature reports. The latest interim NFV Announcement report provides an overview of the progress made by the different NFV ISG working groups until and up to NFV#19. At the NFV#20 meeting, a significant step forward was achieved with approval to create the related normative work items. But this meeting wasn’t all about Release 3, as the working groups were also very busy completing the second round of Release 2 maintenance work.

Describing all the great work performed by the working groups and NFV ISG delegates worldwide is not an easy task. The meeting venue was again the perfect setting for many intense interactions and discussions. As Technical Manager, my sincere appreciation and thanks go out to all the delegates for the work achieved as well as the excellent collaboration between the working groups.

Among the many highlights at NFV#20, there was one shadow; NFV#20 was the meeting in which, unfortunately, we said goodbye to Yun Chao Hu (EVE WG Chairman, Huawei), a long-standing NFV contributor from the inception of NFV. Yun Chao has worked exceptionally hard to help our work. An award for Yun Chao’s outstanding work and support to the NFV ISG was delivered by our ISG Chairman, Diego Lopez (Telefonica). We wish to Yun Chao “all the best in your future professional tasks, and hope to see you again in other places”.

NFV20

Anyway, let us highlight a few relevant achievements from NFV#20.

Maintaining and growing the Release 2

Since the first publication drop in September 2016, the list of NFV Release 2 deliverables has grown over the last year to a remarkable nineteen Group Specification (GS) and Group Report (GR) deliverables. And at NFV#20 we completed the technical work for the second round of maintenance of 2017. In the first half of the year around 150 change request (CR) contributions were approved, with similar numbers expected for the second half. At the time of writing this blogpost, we are still pending on some contribution leftovers being handled via e-mail approval. This is a measure of the continuing attention being given to our work as feedback comes in from implementation.

The NFV ISG is committed to maintaining the Release 2 specifications while we are also building the upcoming Release 3. After approval and publication of the resulting deliverables from this second half of the year maintenance (with version V2.4.1), a third round of maintenance will commence, whose completion is expected around summer 2018.

However, it is important to realize that the Release 2 portfolio is not only being maintained, but is growing. Creation of two new work items was approved at the NFV#20 Closing Plenary on “SOL API conformance test plans” and “Access Token for API access”. Both address enhancements to the RESTful API specifications delivered by the SOL WG: the first aiming at specifying conformance test plans for these APIs, and the second with the objective of specifying a secure mechanism for using tokens for API access control. These two Release 2 new work items augment two new work items (NFV-SEC021 and NFV-SOL006) that were initiated at NFV#19.

As a related point it is worth noting that the specifications for the REST APIs exposed by an NFV Orchestrator towards Operations Support Systems, a major piece of the Release 2 work programme, were almost finalized at NFV#20. The corresponding deliverable GS NFV-SOL 005 is expected to be published in January 2018. This will complete the current set of RESTful API specifications required to enable interoperability for NFV Management and Orchestration (NFV-MANO).

As hinted in the title of this blogpost, the NFV Release 2 “is landing”, but we have not yet arrived at the gate, so “passengers, please do not unbuckle your seatbelts yet”.

It is worth recognizing the excellent spirit of collaboration amongst the different working groups to coordinate and handle the high number of contributions for maintenance of the Release 2 specifications as well as efforts to improve the specifications with the help of our security and reliability experts. All these efforts demonstrate the high degree of industry commitment to the NFV ISG, its community and company delegates in delivering world class standards (as ETSI’s logo reminds us). A set of standards aiming to help all industry stakeholders, including open source communities, to reference common foundation specifications that are vitally important to avoid fragmentation and foster interoperable solutions.

NFV Release 3 taking form

Another notable achievement at NFV#20 was the creation of new work items related to Release 3. As a reminder, among the Release 3 features we are dealing with, some address very important aspects for making NFV truly operationally ready, including (but not limited to) license management, support of cloud native approaches, network slicing, and multi-site deployments. Operators requested many of these features because they are seen as being critical for NFV to become a reality at the operational level.

Two types of new work items were created. On the one hand, the new work items to propagate and/or evolve the existing Release 2 specifications into Release 3. As I had the opportunity to explain in a couple of industry conference tutorials this year, the working groups have been working hard to derive use cases, analysis and recommendations to enhance the existing NFV framework and specifications with new features.

On the other hand, the creation of three new work items to deliver completely new specifications was also approved. These three additional new work items will handle Release 3 features such as “multi-site connectivity services”, “multiple administrative domain interfaces”, and “management of NFV-MANO”.

With the new work items, now formally created, working groups have the necessary work program framework to undertake the specification of requirements, interfaces, and information model supporting Release 3 features.

With regards to Release 3 work, it is also worth highlighting the plans to collaborate with ETSI MEC ISG experts on handling the feature of “MEC in NFV environment”. This feature will enable network operators to leverage a common NFV Infrastructure and enable reuse of the ETSI NFV-MANO components to deploy MEC applications as VNFs.

Our plan is to start delivering some Release 3 specification results as early as in the summer of 2018, and the remainder by the end of 2018.

Specification progress

Intensive ISG work over the past few months has resulted in the completion of a number of work items in addition to those dedicated to Release 2 maintenance.

At NFV#20 we saw the approval of three Final Drafts (NFV-EVE008, NFV-EVE010, and NFV-EVE012) of Release 3 reports, and the approval of a revised version of NFV003 on “NFV Terminology”. The NFV ISG had already published in October the GR NFV-REL 007 and the GR NFV-TST 007.

Furthermore, three work items had been completed soon before or just at NFV#20, namely NFV-IFA021, NFV-IFA028 and NFV-REL006. Their deliverable drafts will now go shortly for ISG approval via Remote Consensus, and if successful, they will also be published early next year (see list below):

  • DGR/NFV003ed231 “NFV Terminology”
  • DGR/NFV-EVE008 “Report on Usage Metering and Charging Use Cases and Architectural Study”
  • DGR/NFV-EVE010 “Report on License Management for NFV”
  • DGR/NFV-EVE012 “Report on Network Slicing support with ETSI NFV Architecture Framework”
  • DGR/NFV-IFA021 “Report on management of NFV-MANO and automated deployment of EM and other OSS functions”
  • DGR/NFV-IFA028 “Report on architecture options to support multiple administrative domains”
  • DGS/NFV-REL006 “Specification for maintaining service availability and continuity when updating/upgrading software”
  • GR NFV-SEC 007 “Report on Attestation Technologies and Practices for Secure Deployments”
  • GR NFV-TST 007 “Guidelines on Interoperability Testing for MANO”

As usual, anyone (e.g., developers, providers, operators, etc.) can access working drafts of ISG documents according to the open policy that the NFV ISG has followed. All drafts are available on the ETSI NFV Open Area.

Next steps

With the Release 2 maintenance well on track, and the newly created work items already in place, we expect all working groups to now ramp up their work on the Release 3. At the time of writing, working groups are already setting up drafting calls dedicated to progressing specific Release 3 features.

The next ETSI NFV plenary will be NFV#21 (February 26 to March 2, 2018) hosted again by ETSI in Sophia-Antipolis, France. Thanks again to ETSI and to our ETSI Secretariat for setting up the meeting arrangements and rooms, providing us with plenty of coffee and tea, and for organizing a nice cocktail to celebrate our 20th meeting. We are all looking forward to another successful meeting and discovering what new words we can use to describe the weather in Provence & Cote d’Azur at the end of February.

And since the holidays are approaching, I and the rest of the NFV Leadership team would like to take this opportunity to “wish you all a Very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year”. May 2018 bring us more NFV!

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