8 MANO Providers. 9 NFVI and VIM Combinations. 10 Riveting Days.

The first ETSI NFV Plugtests was nothing less than chaotic – the most positive and constructive chaos that you can picture. Seventy people from over thirty organizations were brought together in Leganés, Spain at the 5TONIC Laboratory for two weeks to collaborate and interoperate until they could collaborate and interoperate no more – or until the Rioja was gone. Planning and logistics for the event began already back in the fall of 2016 in order to prepare for quick and effective work when the integration experts from all thirty organizations descended onsite.

Netrounds’ Jan Jakobsson with a fellow participant at the first ETSI NFV Plugtests

Netrounds participated in the Plugtests to test interoperability with as many MANO and NFVI providers in the NFV ecosystem as possible – verifying interoperability will provide our customers with the assurance that they can deploy virtual, multi-vendor environments with ease.  Over the course of the Plugtests, Netrounds’ Virtual Test Agent (vTA) VNF tested interoperability with eight different Management and Orchestration (MANO) providers – every flavor from open source to proprietary, and all kinds of players from market leaders to niche experts. In addition, the vTA was tested against nine different combinations of Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI) and Virtualized Infrastructure Managers (VIMs).

Senior DevOps engineer, Jan Jakobsson, who currently acts as Netrounds’ NFV ecosystem integration guru, attended the event on behalf of Netrounds. “Our Netrounds vTA VNF is small and very resource-efficient, so it worked extremely well during all the varied interop work at the Plugtests, even when running on hypervisors with limited resources,” remarked Jakobsson. “Participating in this Plugtest was a great way to learn a lot about how our product works in different implementations in a short period of time.”

As expected, there were some hurdles to overcome with so many vendors in the mix, but these challenges proved to expose differing views on NFV and MANO that will be fed back into ETSI and other standards groups and communities to better prepare these technologies and vendors for future deployments. It also brought to light areas where the industry is currently lacking – VNF packaging for example. VNFs today are largely onboarded manually, which is both time-consuming and error-prone. Focusing on VNF packaging and onboarding may be where the industry needs to look next in order to assist operators in deploying dynamic production NFV networks in the more near-term future.

“NFV is far from flawless. There is a lot of work yet to be done to ensure seamless integration between all the vendors that make up the NFV landscape, but this Plugtest proves that we are taking steps in the right direction,” said Jakobsson. “One example is MANO. With most of the solutions available, you have a nice graphical view of all running network services, but extending existing network service descriptors (NSDs) proves challenging due to the file formats and user interfaces. This will be an important factor for operators – being able to edit and create NSDs with ease to update and change their dynamic services as needed.”

First ETSI NFV Plugtests group at the 5TONIC Lab

The first ETSI NFV Plugtests has been deemed a success. In the words of George Hamilton, VP of Marketing at RIFT.io, in a recent piece on the Open Source MANO blog – “it’s not glamorous or sexy, but the work that has gone into the Plugtests event is what will lead to the metaphorical touchdown,” that is, towards furthering NFV and MANO standardization and facilitating deployments of dynamic, programmable virtual networks.

Stay tuned for the official ETSI report from the First ETSI NFV Plugtests coming soon!

Attending Mobile World Congress February 27 – March 2? Visit Netrounds in the RIFT.io booth in Hall 6, Stand 6J8 to view the never-before seen demo of the DevOps in Service Chains and 5G Network Slices Proof of Concept, developed by Netrounds, Telenor, Intel, RIFT.io and Arctos Labs. To book a meeting at the event, please email demo@netrounds.com or visit the event page.

Kaela Loffler, Director, Marketing & Industry Alliances, Netrounds