The NFV Business Process Revolution

Network functions virtualization (NFV) is generally viewed as a revolutionary concept because of the positive economic impact it is having on service provider networks.  NFV takes cost out of the network by replacing proprietary hardware and software with industry standard servers running open standards-based solutions.  By deploying network applications and services built on these servers, service providers can achieve service agility for their customers.

NFV also ushers in another significant business process revolution: the deep involvement of service providers in the definition and development of NFV standards and solutions. I was reminded of that as I looked over the list of NFV demos that Intel is showing at the NFV World Congress, in San Jose on May 5-7.

In the pre-NFV days, key service providers worked very intimately with equipment vendors on the building of the telecom network. Strict adherence to industry standard specs was paramount, but innovation sometimes got stifled. The approach was well suited to a more closed technology environment.

Now, service providers are getting much more involved at the ground level with significant contributions to the solutions and the underlying technology. One case in point is Telefonica, which spent a year developing software interfaces for NFV management and organization (MANO) and then just recently made it available by delivering open source called OpenMANO. The code strengthens the connection between the virtual infrastructure manager (VIM) and the NFV orchestrator.

Other service providers will be showcasing their contributions in the Intel booth at NFV World Congress. Here's a list of all of the demos that we’ll feature at the show:

End-to-End NFV Implementation: This demo will use MANO technology to help carriers guarantee performance during the on-boarding of new virtual network functions. The exhibit will explore and understand a simplified approach to ingesting the SDN/VNFD and performing the intelligent VNF placement through an intelligent orchestration engine. Participating partners: Telefonica, Intel, Cyan, Red Hat and Brocade.

Carrier Grade Service Function Chain: China Telecom will showcase the centralized software-defined networking (SDN) controller with an integrated service chaining scheduler to support dynamic service chaining for data centers, IP edge network and mobile network in a very flexible and scalable fashion. China Telecom’s work using the open source Data Plane Development Kit enhancements improves performance of VM-to-VM communication. Participating partners: China Telecom, Intel.

Multi-vendor NFV for Real-Time OSS/BSS: This live demonstration shows how NFV concepts can be applied to OSS/BSS functions.  With support of deep packet inspection (DPI), policy, charging and analytics, and OSS/BSS - all in an NFV implementation – this demonstration will deliver increased system agility, elasticity, and greater service availability. Participating partners: Vodafone, Red Hat, Intel, Vodafone Openet, Procera Networks, Amartus and Cobham Wireless.

Nanocell: The nanocell is a next-generation small wireless base station running on an Intel-powered blade server.  Developed by the China Mobile Research Institute the nanocell supports GSM / TD-SCDMA / TD-LTE standards and WLAN (WiFi) network connections. In most applications, the nanocell will have a range of between 100m and 500m, making it ideal for deployment in enterprise, home and high-capacity hotspot locations. Participating partners: China Mobile Research Institute, Intel.

Service Function Chaining: In addition to these carrier demos, Intel and Cisco will reprise one of the most popular demos from the recent Mobile World Congress: the first network service header (NSH)-based service function chaining demo. The demo presents a chance to see Intel's new 100GbE technology and Cisco's Open Daylight implementation which provides advanced user controls.

If you are planning to attend the NFV World Congress, stop by the Intel booth and take some time with these demonstrations. I look forward to seeing you there.