Industry Specification Group (ISG) Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) Activity Report 2020

Chair: Bruno Chatras, Orange

Supporting the development of an open, interoperable and mature industry ecosystem for virtualized network functions running on cloud-like infrastructures.

A key enabler for the success of 5G – and relevant to other telecoms network architectures – Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) consolidates heterogeneous network equipment types onto standard IT servers, switches and storage. NFV is an essential aspect of modern network design, simplifying roll-out of new services while reducing deployment and operational costs.

With the support of hundreds of organizations worldwide, the goal of our Industry Specification Group (ISG) on NFV is to create specifications that can accommodate today’s and tomorrow’s network requirements.

2020 saw the closure of NFV Release 2 with the publication of API conformance testing specifications, together with the specification of end-to-end management and orchestration procedures and the specification of YAML data models for descriptor-based virtualized resource management.

While the specifications of NFV Release 3 functional requirements applicable to interfaces and information models entered ‘maintenance mode’ in 2019, 2020 saw the publication of a first set of protocols and data models specifications fulfilling these requirements, including the specification of APIs for managing NFV-MANO and NFV-MANO policies.

As NFV-based deployments gather pace worldwide, work accelerated on Release 4. Simplifying network deployment and operations, Release 4 aligns with other current industry trends in network transformation. It addresses specific technical concerns including:

  • Evolution of the NFV framework to support recent cloudification and virtualization techniques;
  • Novel management architectural styles and operationalization aspects, leveraging virtualization characteristics to simplify deployments; and
  • Increased support for automation, leveraging data analytics.

In 2020, a first set of normative deliverables focused on enhanced support for container-based deployment of VNFs in the NFV framework was published. This includes the specification of service interfaces for OS container management and orchestration as well as the enhancements to the deployment templates for managing containerized VNFs. The group also launched work on the specification of corresponding APIs and data models, while continuing to develop a specification of requirements for the management and orchestration of container clusters. This work on container-based deployment of VNFs is complemented by a container security specification, as well as a report on network connectivity for container-based VNF.

In line with one of the main objectives of NFV Release 4 to further operationalize NFV, we also published the specification of the interfaces between a security controller and NFV-MANO.

In 2020 the group published four new Group Reports, addressing: NFV-MANO software modification [GR NFV-REL 011], connection-based virtual services [GR NFV-EVE 016], real-time management and orchestration of ultra low latency services [GR NFV-EVE 017] and connection based services [GR NFV-EVE 016].

See the list of all ISG NFV deliverables published since January 2020 here.

Meanwhile three new studies were launched at the end of 2020, addressing:

  • Policy information and data models for NFV-MANO;
  • Cognitive use of operations data for reliability;
  • Security assurance of the NFV Infrastructure.

ETSI’s first joint NFV and MEC Plugtests™ event took place remotely in June 2020, offering solution providers and open source communities an opportunity to tackle interoperability challenges while validating their implementation of NFV and MEC specifications and APIs. More than 40 organizations and over 170 engineers were involved in test sessions that covered a wide range of configurations. Participants were able to interact remotely through the ETSI HIVE (Hub for Interoperability and Validation at ETSI).

Collaboration with other bodies remained a priority during the year. We continued our co-operation with other ETSI groups including ISG MEC and ISG ZSM, while maintaining links with 3GPP SA5, OASIS TOSCA, GSMA and ITU-T SG11. Liaison with open source projects and communities was also maintained, including OpenStack, Open Source NFV Management and Orchestration (OSM), and the Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP) and Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) projects.

 Look out for in 2021 – ISG NFV work in progress:

See the full list of current ISG NFV work items here.

2021 is expected to see the publication of remaining deliverables on container management, including:

  • Report on network connectivity for container based VNF;
  • Specification of requirements for the management and orchestration of container cluster nodes, and
  • Enhancement to all other APIs and data model specifications

Most studies launched in 2019/2020 should also be completed during 2021 to enable the start of derivative normative work, including:

  • Report on VNF generic OAM functions;
  • Report on Service Based Architecture (SBA) design;
  • Report on enabling autonomous management in NFV-MANO, and
  • Report on policy information and data models for NFV-MANO

We also anticipate to publish specifications of conformance tests for Release 3 NFV-MANO APIs.

Furthermore, 2021 is expected to see the birth of NFV Release 5.