Founded in November 2012 by seven of the world's leading telecoms network operators ISG NFV became the home of the Industry Specification Group for NFV.

Five years and over 100 publications later, the ISG NFV community has evolved through several phases, its publications have moved from pre-standardization studies to detailed specifications (see Release 2 and Release 3) and the early Proof of Concepts (PoCs) efforts have evolved and led to interoperability events (Plugtests). This large community is still working intensely to develop the required standards for NFV as well as sharing their experiences of NFV implementation and testing.

ISG NFV, like any other ETSI Industry Specification Group is open to ETSI members and non-members alike, with different conditions depending on ETSI membership status. If you would like to participate in this work, please contact the NFV support team.

Building the Software-Defined Network

Modern telecoms networks contain an ever increasing variety of proprietary hardware. The launch of new services often demands network reconfiguration and on-site installation of new equipment which in turn requires additional floor space, power, and trained maintenance staff.

The innovation cycles accelerate and require greater flexibility and dynamism than hardware-based appliances allow. Hard-wired network with single functions boxes are tedious to maintain, slow to evolve, and prevent service providers from offering dynamic services.

In the same way that applications are supported by dynamically configurable and fully automated cloud environments, virtualized network functions allow networks to be agile and capable to respond automatically to the needs of the traffic and services running over it.

Key enabling technologies for this vision include SDN (Software Defined Networking) and NFV (Network Functions Virtualisation). SDN and NFV are complementary but increasingly co-dependent in order for the benefits of software-defined networking to be fully realized.

Upcoming events

  • NFV#27, 23-27 September 2019, Paris, France
  • NFV#28, 02-06 December 2019, Fukuoka, Japan

Our Role & Activities


ETSI NFV ISG undertakes work in 2-year phases.

Documents published during the first phase (2013-2014) were considered as pre-normative studies, and are sometimes erroneously referred to as 'Release 1’.

After the first 2-year 'Phase', the ISG NFV community, which reached an attendance peak in 2014, decided to develop normative specifications with more formalism. They started to plan the content for their future releases. Subsequent tranches were referenced as 'Release 2', 'Release 3' etc. Release 2 development ended Q3 2016 when Release 3 started.

Going forward, the ISG will continue to develop specifications that meet the needs of the industry, and maintain its published documents. Progress in the industry will be monitored, including feedback from implementation, and the identification of gaps will be addressed.

2017-2018: NFV Release 3

NFV Release 3 is under way: the "feature collection" initiative led to an initial set of 18 New Work Items (future publications) being approved as part of this third release, although other documents could be created and added during the development.

A "Release 3 Definition" identifies the work items that will be addressed by the ISG in the coming months.

As part of Release 3 and other release-independent work items the ISG NFV is currently engaged in:

2015-2016: NFV Release 2

The need to produce normative specifications to enable end-to-end interworking of equipment and services formed a fundamental part of this phase.

The ISG decided to group most of its normative work into 'NFV Release 2' which is a subset of the published documents during the 2015-2016 phase. It was defined by selecting and prioritizing a set of key capabilities for NFV and specifying them up to the level of requirements, interfaces, and information models.

For a good introduction to the Release 2 content see also the ISG NFV Release 2 description document, available in the ISG NFV "Open" area.

As part of Release 2, the ISG NFV specified functional requirements applicable to the VIM, VNFM and NFVO functional blocks, and requirements applicable to the reference points. In addition, requirements, interfaces and information models related to different capabilities were specified, including:


In the first 2-years of NFV ISG, the initial focus 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 vision outlined in the joint-operator white paper published in October 2012 was:

  • Defining requirements and architecture for the virtualization of network functions
  • Addressing technical challenges of network virtualization, which included:
    • simple to operate, manage, and orchestrate (particularly alongside legacy management systems)
    • high performing and portable virtualized network appliances
    • co-existence with legacy hardware
    • secured against attack and configuration errors
    • stability of service and network during appliance load and relocation
    • resilience to hardware and software failures

The first important milestone was the publication of the first five ETSI Group Specifications (GSs) documents in October 2013. Four of them were designed to align understanding about NFV across the industry. They covered NFV use cases (NFV 001), virtualization requirements (NFV 004), an architectural framework (NFV 002), and terminology (NFV 003). The fifth one defined a framework for co-ordinating and promoting public demonstrations of Proof of Concept (PoC) platforms illustrating key aspects of NFV (NFV-PER 002).

In 2014, the publication pace accelerated with the release of 11 other documents:

This first set of documents closed the first 2-year phase of ISG NFV. At the time they were written the ETSI NFV community was considering these documents as “pre-standardization” work. They helped the industry to build a culture and share a common understanding on the important concepts to master when working in network virtualization.

Although these document were not developed with the formalism of standard specifications, they are very valuable and constitute a large documentation basis for the reader.


With over 100 NFV publications and over 50 draft specifications in progress it can be tricky to find a document. In order to assist you please find the following guidelines:

Search for publications by Working Group: TST, SOL, REL, IFA, EVE, SEC (including closed WGs: SWA, MAN, PER, INF).

Search for all ISG NFV publications.

Search for specifications within the NFV Architecture Framework:

Image showing the NFV Architecture

Find published NFV specifications using the Standards Search function, and subscribe for alerts on updates of specifications.

Search for Drafts in progress via the ETSI Work Programme.

In addition to the published specifications, ISG NFV makes all of its drafts in progress publicly available for industry comment.


News from the NFV Industry Specification Group

The direct link to refer to this blog is https://www.etsi.org/newsroom/blogs/blog-nfv