ETSI report examines future role of NFV

It’s been more than 10 years since the original group of telecom execs created the 2012 white paper that ignited the NFV space. What’s the next 10 years going to look like for the NFV camp?

A new ETSI white paper tackles that question. ETSI this week released “Evolving NFV towards the next decade,” a white paper authored by executives from China Mobile, China Telecom, Ericsson, Huawei, NEC, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Orange and ZTE.

The seminal white paper jointly released by telecom service providers in 2012 included contributions from AT&T, BT, Centurylink, China Mobile, Colt, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, NTT, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telstra and Verizon. That launched a new era in the telecom industry.

Over the years, network operators, vendors, enterprises and core contributors from open source, academia and research communities have been actively discussing and standardizing the NFV framework, “which has become the telco cloud & virtualization network architecture of reference,” the new paper states.

The new paper also acknowledges the challenges of getting two distinct industries together at the same table. Traditionally, network operators and their technology vendors were accustomed to the consensus-based standards development process from which products and services are developed and commercialized. But with IT vendors and open source communities in the mix, the process is more of a “code-first” progression, whereby code is first developed and then contributed. That means bringing the two perspective together to create broader support of NFV standards.

NFV evolution 

The white paper proposes several potential directions on how NFV can evolve in the next decade. Aspects about API development, open source, NFV multi-cloud, unified management, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are considered as key drivers for the evolution, according to the ETSI Industry Specification Group on Network Function Virtualization (ISG NFV).

The following areas are identified as key pillars for evolving NFV toward the next decade: “API development and further leverage of open source, the creation of a truly multi-cloud and multi-technology NFV environment coping with heterogeneous infrastructure supported by a unified NFV management and orchestration framework enriched by enhanced automation and AI-based technology to achieve real cloud native autonomous networks.”