Nokia joins Ericsson, Cisco, Huawei in NFV testing initiative

Add another entity to the NFV ecosystem—but don’t call it another NFV organization amid several, according to a Nokia spokesperson.

Nokia, along with Ericsson, Cisco and Huawei, announced they have signed an MoU to create the NFV Interoperability Testing Initiative (NFV-ITI) in an effort to help service providers address challenges related to NFV deployment and cloud transformation. In the U.S., operators like AT&T and Verizon are implementing NFV and SDN in part so they can improve service delivery times and do so more affordably, but operators big and small all over the world are moving to a software-driven ecosystem based on these principles.

The vendors in a joint statement said the move to NFV within today’s multi-vendor environments “can introduce new interoperability challenges.” To address that, they’re pledging to cooperatively support the interoperability of NFV elements in specific customer situations “to accelerate the commercial implementations, and to reduce the time-to-market for new applications and services.”

They noted that all existing NFV interoperability-related testing activities are triggered by different needs of the industry, including the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV Testing WG, OPNFV testing projects, Network Vendor Interoperability Testing (NVIOT) testing and the New IP Agency (NIA) interoperability testing.

Asked how the NFI-ITI differed from the OPNFV project, which is designed to facilitate the development and evolution of NFV components across various open source ecosystems, Phil Tilley, head of CloudBand and NFV Product Marketing at Nokia, explained that the NFV-ITI is focused on helping interoperability in specific customer cases. If a customer requests interoperability for a certain deployment, this can be addressed directly under the NFV-ITI without having to wait to fit in with OPNFV schedules, he told FierceWirelessTech via email. It also means that the customer does not have to go to OPNFV and get his case discussed.

As for why Nokia believes it’s necessary to form another organization to tackle this, Tilley said they are not creating another organization to do this, but “we are creating a framework within which the appropriate discussions can take place,” adding that this is a natural follow-on from the OSSii (Operations Support Systems interoperability initiative) that was started in 2013 and extended in 2016. That initiative was designed to enable OSS interoperability between different OSS vendor’s equipment.

In a joint statement, the companies also noted that NFV-ITI will be well-aligned with the ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group and the OPNFV project.   

“Complementing all existing NFV interoperability testing activities in the industry, NFV-ITI will focus on testing interoperability configurations of commercial NFV solutions actually used in the communication services providers' networks,” the companies said in a joint press release. “It will recommend generic principles, including interoperability test cases, test criteria, processes, methods, guidelines, templates and testing tools, and will also apply best practices from all existing interoperability testing activities in the industry, such as NVIOT forum efforts.”

The NFV-ITI is open to any relevant NFV vendors that want to join by ratifying the NFV-ITI MoU.