ETSI, CableLabs ask telco SDOs to help unscramble the NFV egg

Entropy, it's still a thing

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and CableLabs are worried that network function virtualisation (NFV) could fracture, and have hosted a confab in Louisville, Colorado this week designed to keep everybody marching more or less in step.

NFV is part of the burgeoning "software defined"-ness of everything. Instead of a system like a base station being wrapped up in a piece of hardware, it's turned into software that can run in virtual machines on generic (for example, x86) hardware.

Although ETSI kicked off the formal definitions of NFV back in 2014 with the first drafts of nine standards, the very nature of a virtualised world leaves plenty of room for people to go their own way.

In the software-defined network (SDN) world, hyperscale outfits like Facebook are taking a fairly relaxed view of standardisation.

As Dan Pitt told The Register in December, wire protocols are less important than they used to be. When a component is published as open source, interoperability comes from commonality, he said.

"As networking becomes more of a computing task, interfaces become implementations of software that aren't across a wire protocol. Standards are less important, because you're doing more with computation," he told us.

Telecommunications operators aren't quite so relaxed. They live and breathe standards, and are largely reluctant to let things into their core networks that don't have them.

Hence the NFV Village: the ETSI is worried that different standards development organisations (SDOs) are already using "different information models and data models ... resulting in fragmentation and complexity," reports TelecomTV.

As well as ETSI and CableLabs, that report lists 3GPP, ATIS, Broadband Forum, DMTF, ETSI NFV, IETF, ITU, MEF, OASIS/TOSCA, Open Cloud Connect, ONF, OpenDaylight, OPNFV and TM Forum as participants in the forum.

The talkfest yielded a collaboration plan that the participants will be responding to by March.

The players have also agreed to try and settle on consistent information models and APIs. ®

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