ETSI, OPNFV team up on interoperability testing during Plugtest and Plugfest events

While some in the telecom industry still see fragmentation between open source and standards bodies, ETSI and OPNFV are teaming up on testing. 

On Tuesday, the European Telecommunications Standards Group (ETSI) kicked off its third ETSI NFV Plugtest event in Sophia Antipolis, France, but the notable news this time around will be the presence of Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV.) 

ETSI's Plugtest will run from May 29 through June 8 while OPNFV's Fraser Plugfest is scheduled for June 4-8. Pierre Lynch, chairman of the NFV testing, experimentation and open source working group at ETSI NFV, said that while ETSI has worked closely with OPNFV for several years it had been trying to collocate its Plugtest with OPNFV's Plugfest for some time.

"It's huge," Lynch said of the co-joined testing. "We talked about bringing the Plugtest and Plugfest together about a year and half ago but logistically it was difficult because everyone was on a different cadence. This time it happened to fall on dates that just worked for both of us. Having them at the same time allows us to do a bunch of joint activities that are beneficial to both of us."

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From a big picture point of view, the collaboration shows the importance of open source communities marching in unison with standards bodies for the overall benefit of the telecom industry.

"The synergies are there," Lynch said of the OPNFV working with ETSI. "They have serious input into what we do, and conversely we help them with what they do as well. We've been collaborating with OPNFV for over three years."

"One of the cool things that OPNFV has for testing on its compliance and verification program is a tool called Dovetail. Dovetail (Test Tool) is going to be present at the Plugtest and they've invited all of the platforms that are here for the Plugtest to run the compliance program with them and see how they do informally. They will be able to take Dovetail, which has been ran on the OPNFV platform in multiple scenarios on commercial platforms, and just run it to see how things go."

Lynch said that OPNFV also had sophisticated test platforms, such as Yardstick and Functest, that Plugtest attendees will be able to take for trial runs over commercial projects.

"One other major thing is a lot of companies will be coming into the Plugtest sporting multiple, different flavors that are called 'scenarios' in OPNFV language" Lynch said. "They'll be bringing that into the Plugtest and it gives them the opportunity to test their reference platforms against commercial VNFs (virtual network functions) and that's a very unique opportunity."

Lynch said that he participants in OPNFV even though he doesn't have a formal title there. In his role as the chair of the ETSI testing group, Lynch said there's a lot of collaboration between ETSI and open source groups, but mainly with OPNFV because its an integration platform.

"Right from the beginning they've focused on a lot of testing and continuous use integration," Lynch said. "They're super sophisticated when it comes to that. They're implementers and automators for open source while ETSI NFV tends to build reports and specs more. Actually, especially from my world, it's totally complimentary between the two."

Third Plugfest a deeper dive into VNFs

ETSI held its first Plugtest in January 2017 followed by the second in January of this year.

"It's people plugging all of their stuff together and seeing if it works," Lynch said of the Plugtests. "The first one had decent success for basic functionality. The second one had dramatically improved success in the sense that more test sessions were run between all of the participants and the success rate of all of the test cases was way higher. Even though there's a shorter interval between the second and third Plugtests, I anticipate even better results."

Lynch said the third Plugtest is focusing more on multivendor, multi-VNF network services instead of testing single vendor, single-VNF service chains.  

Among others in the industry, AT&T's Chris Rice, senior vice president of AT&T Labs, has been very vocal about the need for vendors to make their VNFs more like Lego blocks than snowflakes. In order for SDN to reach its full potential, service providers want reusable, interoperable VNFs.

"That's what we are trying to prove" Lynch said. "That interchangeable VNFs can be inserted into chains, and scaled up and down in an interoperable fashion. That's one of the main focuses of this one."

"There's also an experimental API track going that I think is pretty important. People will try to interoperate using very specific, ETSI NFV-defined APIs. That's picking up steam as well."