Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is an initiative of open source cloud infrastructure communities to speed up the innovation in carrier grade network solutions such as session border control, load balancers, firewalls, intrusion detection devices and WAN accelerators. . We see our customers apply these software defined networking solution often on an OpenStack platform. Why do these go so well together?
So why is OpenStack often used for NFV?
The first and most simple reason is because all NFV telecommunication environments have strict requirements in the areas of scaling, performance, and faster and more deterministic responses to failures, as well as new developments as IPv6. OpenStack is made for these requirements.
Secondly OpenStack is set up with standardized interfaces between NFV elements and the infrastructure. Basically it operates NFV solutions as it orchestrates any virtual machines, containers, storage, et cetera. Let’s say; in the cloud way of thinking. This means it simplifies the management of repetitive tasks through automation and that organizations can configure and optimize automated tasks, then use those tasks as building blocks to create customized end-to-end process automation.
Another reason is because OpenStack contains proven architecture for massive scalable private, public or hybrid clouds, which are available to everyone on standard hardware. This means there is no need to invent the wheel all over again and that you are able to build on your general cloud platform technologies, tools and knowledge. You are able to use ready to use architecture in combination with documented APIs, UIs, shared services, operations and automation options for NFV, Edge Computing, AI, Machine Learning, et cetera.
In 2019 I wrote a short article about Kubernetes and OpenStack and their complementary properties (link). OpenStack is used to orchestrate and manage all kinds of cloud infrastructure components among which bare metal servers, virtual machines and containers. OpenStack is broadly used together with container technologies like Kubernetes, OKD and OpenShift. The reason for this is because Linux containers are gaining ground in Communications Service Provider (CSP) plans for network virtualization, especially in preparing for 5G, because for these business cases they offer advantages over virtual machines (VMs). So again OpenStack, NFV and containerization is a match made in heaven.
So OpenStack provides the foundation for a NFV architecture, which is essentially a fit-for-purpose cloud for deploying, orchestrating and managing virtual network functions. OpenStack enables multiple datacenter management from a single pane of glass, complete with common security, identity services, APIs, and user interfaces. The open, modular and interoperable framework of the OpenStack project offers telecoms and enterprises the ability to design the NFV system of their choosing, without unnecessary components or overhead.