Industry Specification Group (ISG) Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) Activity Report 2022

Chair: Yoshihiro Nakajima, NTT DOCOMO

Supporting the development of an open, interoperable and mature industry ecosystem for virtualized network functions running on cloud 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 ETSI’s Industry Specification Group (ISG) on NFV is to create specifications that can accommodate today's and tomorrow's network requirements.

The group's primary responsibility is to consolidate technical specifications towards the definition of a consistent operational integration with current and future network services. It is also addressing additional requirements for NFV technologies brought by the evolution of telecommunications networks, notably in relation to 5G and beyond.

The ISG NFV uses a system of Releases to structure its work programme. In 2022 the group worked on three Releases in parallel.

Release 3

Within the framework of Release 3, the group continued to maintain all core specifications by fixing issues identified by the industry, keeping up-to-date with relevant security specifications, filling small functional gaps. The group also completed the protocol and data model specifications of Release 3 features, and conformance testing specification for NFV-MANO APIs.

Release 4

As NFV-based deployments are promoted around the world triggered by the introduction of 5G Standalone (SA) systems, especially 5G core network, technical work on Release 4 was accelerated to consider latest technological advances, such as containerization of applications, cloud-native concept, and data analytics. Motivated by the need to leverage advances in cloud computing and network management technologies to simplify NFV deployments, Release 4 aligns with other current industry trends in network transformation.

It addresses specific technical concerns including:

  • Evolution of NFV framework to support new cloudification and virtualization technologies
  • Novel management architectural styles and operationalization aspects, leveraging virtualization characteristics to simplify deployments
  • Increased support for automation

A full description of Release 4 features is summarized here.

Release 4 develops features and capabilities to leverage and embrace cloudification principles in various areas and further support 5G deployments.

A major milestone during the year was completion of the first set of normative deliverables focussed on the enhanced support of ETSI NFV-MANO Framework to realize containerized VNF lifecycle management. These specifications enable integrated lifecycle management of container-based VNFs, which are becoming increasingly popular in the industry, in addition to VM-based VNFs. These specifications include the necessary enhancements of the specification of the VNF package and VNF descriptor data model specifications and enhancements to the protocols and data models of the interfaces on the main NFV-MANO reference points, and as a central point a new type of  specification that profiles the reference Kubernetes® API as NFV protocol and data model solution for OS container management and orchestration and profiles the reference OCITM Distribution Specification API as NFV protocol and data model solution for OS container image management.

Furthermore, the group introduced new functionality for OS container cluster management which enables users to create and manage container clusters (e.g. Kubernetes® clusters) using bare-metal or virtualised resources by specifying concept and architecture principles as well as the requirement level description.

The work on container-based deployment of VNFs is complemented by an ongoing work item on container security.

Additionally, the specification of the five ‘small enhancement features’ to NFV-MANO has been completed to support SDN integration, NS feasibility check, data flow mirroring, invariant identifier of NS constituents, and scalable VNF instantiation.

The development of normative specifications derived from the conclusions of these studies will be one of the main tasks in the group's 2023 work programme.

Furthermore, the group launched new work items on the specification of the service interfaces for Management Data Analytics (MDA), the MANO Policy Information Model, the Intent Management Service Interface and the Intent Information Model.

See the full list of ISG NFV specifications and other group deliverables published in 2022 here.

Release 5

In November 2021 ISG NFV announced the start of technical work on Release 5. This programme is expected to drive ETSI NFV's work into two main directions: consolidating the NFV framework, while expanding its applicability and functionality set. Aspects of NFV concepts and functionalities addressed in previous Releases are subject to further development in Release 5. These studies on enhanced container networking, network connectivity integration and operationalization, multi-tenancy enhancement for NFV-MANO, service based architecture for NFV-MANO, VNF generic management functions were ongoing in 2022 and recommended normative work that could be started.

In parallel, Release 5 embraces wider industry needs, for example extending the NFV framework to address telecom use cases in the radio access network (RAN) domain. The group completed the reports on VNF configuration, and cognitive use of operation data for reliability, and has started normative work on fault management models. Several ongoing Release 5 studies address the corresponding needs, and are expected to be completed by early 2023 on multi-tenancy, NFV for vRAN, GreenNFV, Flexible VNF deployment, reliability for cloud native VNF.

See the full list of current ISG NFV Work Items on Release 5 here .

Towards Release 6

In September 2022, ISG NFV commenced work to identify the need for a Release 6, and started to collect topics and the process to identify major technical areas the new release should focus on.

The group will continue to collect proposals from its member and participant companies on features to be addressed within the scope of Release 6. First Release 6 activities are expected to start at the beginning of 2023.

Other activities

The group has released a ‘VNF lifecycle emulator’ to provide a better understanding of how functional blocks (VNFM and NFVO) of NFV-MANO intercommunicate for VNF lifecycle management. This emulator is publicly accessible at  

During 2022 ISG NFV continued its cooperation with other ETSI groups including ISG MEC, ISG ENI and ISG ZSM, as well as retaining close links with 3GPP SA5, OASIS TOSCA, GSMA and ITU-T. Liaison was also maintained with various open source projects and communities including OpenStack, Open Source MANO (OSM), Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP), Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), and Anuket.