Russell L. Ackoff, the pioneer in operations research, said "A system is more than the sum of its parts … It loses its essential properties when it is taken apart." That also suggests the system doesn't exist and its essential properties cannot be observed until it is put together. This is increasingly important as communications service providers and network equipment vendors operationalize network functions virtualization (NFV) and software defined networking (SDN).
To date, most NFV efforts have focused on accelerating the parts – both the speed of development and net performance. OpenFlow, for example, defines communication and functionality between the control plane and the equipment that actually does the packet forwarding, and much of the initial effort has been to connect vendor A's controller to vendor B's router and to achieve pairwise interoperability between point solutions. Intel has been a key enabler of that through the Intel® Network Builders program. We've grown an ecosystem of more than 170 contributing companies developing dozens of Intel® Architecture-based network solutions.
But the desired vision of NFV—and what service providers tell us they need and want—is to be able to quickly assemble new systems offering new services from best-of-breed components and to enhance existing services quickly by incorporating optimized functions from a number of providers. To do that the parts must plug and play when combined into systems. That means proven integration and solution interoperability across stack layers and across networks. So that's what we're taking on next with the recently announced Intel® Network Builders Fast Track.
Intel Network Builders Fast Track builds on the progress we've already made with Intel® Network Builders. It's a natural evolution for us to take with industry partners and leading service providers to move NFV closer to fulfilling its promise. Through Intel market development activities and investments we will accelerate interoperability, quicken adoption of standards-based technologies using Intel® architecture, and drive the availability of integrated, ready-to-deploy solutions.
Specifically, through the Intel Network Builders Fast Track we will facilitate:
- Solution stack optimization—we will invest in ecosystem collaborations to optimize solution stacks and further optimize the Open Network Platform reference architecture – a toolkit to enable solutions across the industry. We are also establishing Intel® Network Builders University to drive technical education for the broader Intel Network Builders community, and deeper collaboration on performance tuning and optimizations for Intel Network Builders members.
- Proven integration—we will publish Solution Blueprints on top use cases targeted for carrier grade deployments, and we'll deepen our collaboration with key system integrators to deliver integrated and optimized solutions.
- Solution interoperability—we will collaborate to establish third party compliance, performance tuning, plugfests and hackathons for use by Intel Network Builders members through new and existing innovation centers.
The concepts of SDN and NFV emerged when the communications industry saw what the IT industry was achieving with cloud computing—interoperable agile services, capacity on demand, and rapid time to market based on industry-standard servers and software.
At Intel, we played a key role in achieving the promise of cloud computing—not just with our product offerings, but with market development and our contributions to the open-source programs that have unified the industry behind a common set of interoperable tools and services. With Intel Network Builders Fast Track, we're bringing that experience and commitment to the communication industry, so we can achieve the solutions the industry needs faster and with less risk.
The transformed communications systems NFV can enable will flex with the service providers' businesses and customers' needs in a way Russell L. Ackoff couldn't have foreseen. And it will make them more competitive and better able to provide communications solutions to power the Internet era. We'll achieve that co-operatively, as an industry. That's what the Intel Network Builders Fast Track is designed to do.