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Beyond SDN to Open Platform Network Functional Virtualization

David Fishman - October 04, 2014

Here at Mirantis we're excited to announce our participation in the Open Platform for NFV Project  (OPNFV), launched this week by the Linux Foundation with the support of the key players in the NFV ecosystem. OPNFV will be a carrier-grade, integrated, open source reference platform intended to accelerate the introduction of new products and services. Mirantis joins OPNFV as a Silver Founding Member.

There’s long been buzz around SDN. This is different, and in many ways, more in OpenStack’s wheelhouse. Where SDN provides a way to programmatically control the creation and operation of networks, Network Function Virtualization, or NFV, takes that control a step further, to apply compute power unlocked by OpenStack directly to the actual operations performed on those networks.

The goal of OPNFV is to deliver a reference design (both hardware and software) that customers and carriers can implement safely and reliably within their networks and enterprises. In this way, the OPNFV project is the first step in truly bringing NFV into the mainstream.

A big outcome we expect to see from this effort is a carrier-grade reference implementation, which gives the OpenStack community a meaningful boost en route to delivering the best open platform for deploying production NFV Infrastructure.

It’s worth noting delivering a pure play OpenStack solution to customers is even more critical now than ever before, given the rapid evolution of use cases such as NFV. Carriers and Operators want to know that they have freedom from lock-in while also being able to get the latest in innovation delivered from the community.

In some ways, the unique disruptive potential of NFV is just the kind of thing OpenStack was built for. Mirantis has been focused on the unique needs of Carriers and Operators since our earliest days; we’re proud to count many of the world’s largest telecom operators as customers and partners.

Anyone remember smartphones from 2004? Compared to today, there weren’t any (OK, Blackberry. Children, I’ll explain what a Blackberry is later). Apps were hardcoded onto devices, and cloud? Seemed like a good idea. Given the rapid development of demands on infrastructure, there’s really no other way that telecoms and digital ecosystem can continue the pace of innovation without NFV. Now more than ever, the dynamics of an open source ecosystem and community have become critical to the operations of our customers. It’s the only way to get the efficiency and innovative service delivery at the pace they need just to keep up.

And much like the smartphone upended enterprise end-user computing (credit where credit is due: Blackberry unleashed this tornado, even if they couldn’t ride it through), the innovations that comes out of the NFV sector will have impact far beyond people who buy telecoms infrastructure.

Finally, with OPNFV  comes the infusion of a new community of developers investing attention in OpenStack, and a new and exciting set of use cases for the community of OpenStack developers to tackle.  And with it, there’s an ecosystem of companies, partners who understand how to navigate and perform in an open source and community driven world.

Finally, NFV is more than just technology; NFV represents a completely new engagement model. Carriers and service providers are demanding freedom from lock-in, not just for the kinds of workloads we’ve seen move legacy virtualization to cloud, but to the core ability to rapidly deliver new innovation into their solutions. As we’ve done with every aspect of OpenStack so far, we’ll continue to be focused on delivering a pure-play solution, free of both software and hardware lock-in to the operator market.

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