Service providers’ confidence in open NFV is growing, survey finds

NFV adoption may still be in its relatively early stage, but a new joint report from OPNFV and Heavy Reading says that service provider confidence around open NFV is growing.

According to the joint study, which was conducted to understand service providers’ perception of OPNFV, 98% of survey respondents agreed that the organization is making progress to accelerate open source NFV.

Nearly half (45%) said OPNFV is most helpful for operators to achieve their NFV goals. The top expected benefits of OPNFV output include easier integration and more rapid NFV deployment.

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Out of the nearly 100 service providers that were surveyed, over 54% said that OPNFV has become more important to their organization over the past year. OPNFV noted the number jumps for those service providers that have NFV in production networks. Similarly, 75 of those surveyed actively follow OPNFV, with more than a quarter of them directly contributing to the project.

“It’s encouraging to see validation from operators that OPNFV is on the right path, especially among those with NFV in production, and that OPNFV’s importance to the ecosystem continues to increase,” said Heather Kirksey, director of OPNFV, in a release. "Feedback continues to be incredibly helpful as we shape our strategy and refine our approach."

OPNFV is now migrating from carrier proof of concept and into production. Besides OpenStack and SDN controllers, service providers are seeing the importance of additional supports needed for open source telco designs.

In particular, service providers are citing the value of hardware based on open-source designs (51% cited the Open Compute Project specifically), leveraging technologies to provide performance needed to support demanding telco workloads (41% cited DPDK), and stronger focus on operational issues (32% cited ONAP), and optimizing applications for improved efficiency (37% cited Docker).

Although still in its early stages, the study revealed that DevOps plays a critical role to the overall success of NFV. The group said that 80% of survey respondents feel DevOps is essential or important to the success of NFV, with half either evaluating various toolchains (26%) or working on automating and testing infrastructure (25%).

However, less than 15% are currently building CI/CD pipelines internally and only 13% currently push patches to production daily via automated tools/validation. By offering DevOps methodologies across multiple communities, the project continues to make progress in the creation of a truly integrated DevOps pipeline for NFV.

As service providers get more comfortable with OPNFV, service providers continue to test and ensure NFV interoperability. Service providers are working to provide interoperability by conducting four main activities: testing on different platforms; promoting network operator interest in upstream projects; helping converge architectural concepts; and providing end-to-end functional system testing.

For all of the progress service providers have made, OPNFV says that NFV adoption barriers still exist, like interoperability between core infrastructure platforms and VNFs, the maturity of MANO software and OSS/BSS integration, and cultural issues. OPNFV said it will put a greater focus on developer training and onboarding, improve documentation, and better quantify upstream impact to help service providers overcome these issues.