NFV INSIGHTS: Is OpenStack ready for NFV?

Next Generation Communications Blog

NFV INSIGHTS: Is OpenStack ready for NFV?

By Andreas Lemke, Ph.D. - Alcatel-Lucent

Open source has had a massive impact on information technology and the web: The Linux operating system, the LAMP stack, browsers, the Android smartphone OS. Individual enthusiasts, universities, and businesses spend enormous resources to build technologies, and then give them away for free. Are they out of their mind? The success of open source shows they are not. 

OpenStack, the open source cloud management software, has come into the focus of service providers as a rapidly advancing, cost-effective technology foundation for NFV. With OpenStack, service providers are expecting to escape the tangles of individual vendors and build an open horizontal platform for their future networks.

Boon or bane, OpenStack was never designed with carrier requirements in mind. Maybe this was a good thing as the community could advance rapidly, pragmatically, without being tied down by stringent requirements. But now, service providers are getting ready to move NFV out of the labs and deploy solutions in their production networks, and this means asking hard questions about OpenStack’s readiness to support commercial deployments. Clearly for any NFV vendor it would not make sense to re-implement the functions that OpenStack already provides in the area of management of virtual machines, storage, networks, images, distributed databases and more.

Red Hat, the open source leader, and Alcatel-Lucent, the leader in carrier networking and NFV, and specifically the CloudBand team got together to tackle the job of making OpenStack ready for serious service provider applications. The first step toward this goal was to understand the particular NFV requirements and the gaps in OpenStack to fill them. Then, making OpenStack ready for NFV requires a two-pronged approach. On the one hand, OpenStack needs to be evolved to support critical requirements, such as security, that can only be supported in OpenStack itself. On the other hand, complementary capabilities need to be provided that are not in the scope of the open source project.

There are at least three bodies chartered to address these challenges:

  • The ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group - the original host to the NFV community

  • The OpenStack Foundation, which recently created an NFV subgroup

  • Open Platform for NFV, a Linux Foundation collaborative project being formed to establish a carrier-grade integrated open source reference platform that industry peers will build together

Obviously there is a lot of momentum in NFV but to ensure the work of the three groups is most beneficial, their missions need to be clearly defined. Done the right way, open source is like an Autobahn that enables everybody to move faster toward their goals.  Without open source, developers would have to re-invented the same functions over again or pay high license fees.

For more details read the whitepaper entitled “CloudBand with OpenStack as NFV platform”, which discusses five critical areas for NFV – distribution, networking, automated lifecycle management, operations, and high performance data plane – and explains how Red Hat and the Alcatel-Lucent CloudBand team work together to build a solution that is optimized for telco NFV environments.


Related Articles to 'NFV INSIGHTS: Is OpenStack ready for NFV?'

Featured Events