We have experienced how open source software technologies revolutionized the application development process, which ultimately resulted in digital transformation across various industry verticals. Open source technologies now are disrupting the telecom sector for building 5G internet, which will be powered by network functions virtualization (NFV) and software defined networking (SDN). With NFV and SDN, multiple network functions and control and management operations in telecom networks will be software-driven; enabling the cloud-native and DevOps approach.
There are various communities emerged to innovate the software stack behind NFV and SDN technologies such as OpenStack, ONAP, ETSI Open Source MANO (OSM), OPNFV, OpenDaylight, Open Networking Foundation (ONF), Open Contrail, Open Baron, On.Lab, CORD, Kubernetes, ONOS and Open-O. In this article, we will take a look at how a combination of data center management platform management platform, OpenStack and ETSI Open Source MANO (OSM) will be useful for NFV deployment.
OpenStack for NFV
As we know, OpenStack is mainly known to be the largest pool of open source projects that collectively form the software platform for cloud computing infrastructure. This infrastructure is used widely in private cloud use cases by many enterprises. After an introduction of NFV by ETSI, OpenStack has emerged as a key infrastructure platform for NFV. In most of the NFV deployments, OpenStack is used at the VIM (virtual infrastructure manager) layer to give a standardized interface for managing, monitoring and assessing all resources within the NFV infrastructure.
Various OpenStack projects (including Tacker, Neutron, Nova, Astara, Congress, Mistral and Senlin) are capable of managing virtualized infrastructure components of NFV environments. As an example, Tacker is utilized to build a generic VNF manager (VNFM) and NFV Orchestrator (NFVO), which help in the deployment and operation of VNFs within NFV infrastructure. Additionally, integrating OpenStack projects introduces various features to NFV infrastructure, including performance features such as huge pages, CPU Pinning, NUMA topology and SR-IOV; service function chaining, networking slicing, scalability, high availability, resiliency and multisite enablement.
Telecom service providers and enterprises that have implemented their NFV environment with OpenStack include AT&T, China Mobile, SK Telecom, Ericsson, Deutsche Telekom, Comcast and Bloomberg.
Open Source Mano (OSM) for NFV
The management and orchestration (MANO) layer is responsible for orchestration and complete lifecycle management of hardware resources and virtual network functions (VNFs). In other words, the MANO layer coordinates NFV infrastructure (NFVI) resources and maps them efﬁciently to various VNFs. There are various options available as three-dimensional software stacks for MANO. But ETSI-hosted OSM is largely preferred due to large activity at the community level as well as its highly mature framework, production readiness, ease of initiation and constant feeding of use cases by members.
Virtual network functions (VNFs) forms network services and may need updates for feature addition or patch for functionalities. OSM provides a method to invoke the VNF upgrade operation with minimal impact in the running network service.
With the continuous community support and involvement for feature innovation, OSM has now evolved to bring a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) framework at MANO layer.
The latest release 4 of OSM has brought a large set of features and enhancements to the OSM framework, impacting functionality, user experience and maturity, which enables various enhancements for NFV MANO from usability and interoperability perspective.
OSM has steadily adopted the cloud-native principles and can be easily deployed in the cloud, as installation is container-based and runs with the help of container orchestration engine. A new northbound interface aligns with ETSI NFV specification SOL005 and provides dedicated control of the OSM system. Monitoring and closed‐loop capabilities have also been enhanced.
The next version of OSM release 5 is expected to be launched in November and will be bundled with more 5G-related features such as network slicing and container-based VNFs.
Why OpenStack and Open Source MANO for MANO layer in NFV?
Both OpenStack and OSM have a large community known for its rapid pace for innovating NFV and higher contribution by all scale companies to enhance current features and develop new capabilities for core projects under it.
For NFV, OpenStack standardizes interfaces between NFV elements and infrastructure. OpenStack is used for commercial solutions offerings by companies including Canonical/Ubuntu, Cisco Systems, Ericsson, Huawei, IBM, Juniper, Mirantis, Red Hat, SUSE, VMware and Wind River. A large percentage of VIM deployments are based on OpenStack due to the simplicity in handling and operating various projects targeted toward providing full potential storage, compute and networking for NFV.
With last two releases (3 & 4), OSM has evolved to support integration for cloud-native approach by enabling CI/CD frameworks into orchestration layers. Cloud readiness involvement of OSM is the key benefit along with OpenStack, which has proven architecture for private as well as public clouds. OSM deployment into NFV infrastructure has become very lean, where one can start with importing docker containers into production. On the other hand, OpenStack is known for enabling simplicity to manage virtualized and containerized infrastructure. Organizations can realize the full benefits out of integration as NFV MANO using OSM and OpenStack due to lean and simple management and deployment.
Since the introduction of NFV and SDN, telecom service providers and vendors were evaluating the use case offered for telecom networks, and due to this application of both, were in under maturity stage. Service providers and vendors were concerned about dynamic orchestration and automation of infrastructure deployment and constantly upgrading virtual network functions (VNFs). But due to contribution by open source communities such as OpenStack and Open Source MANO (OSM), they are now at the stage to apply cloud-native principles to 5G network implementation and operations. Furthermore, with contributions by communities to OpenStack and OSM projects, we will see more enhancement to 5G network enhancement technologies including network slicing, mobile edge computing (MEC) and cloud radio access network (cRAN), which will benefit emerging technologies including IoT, AI/machine learning, real-time analytics, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) with low latency and high-bandwidth features.