Accelerate 5G services with partner VNF certification program
The success of NFV and 5G will depend on a multitude of VNF’s from many vendors to work on the telco NFVI platforms. They will need to be onboarded and provisioned in an automated way with a minimum of integration efforts. The Ericsson partner VNF certification program aims to reduce risk when onboarding and deploying multi-vendor VNFs on Ericsson NFVI through a comprehensive certification process.
The 5G eco-system
The vision of NFV and 5G is to build a new an agile network where physical network functions or nodes can be deployed as software on any telco NFVI platform, based on COTS hardware. The reality has proven that this vision has been hard to realize for many reasons such as lack of standards, non-cloud native applications with hardware dependencies plus the sheer complexity of very large networks with very high availability requirements. This calls for the need to secure vendors applications that run on at least the most common NFVI platforms in the industry.
Notably in the case of 5G we also include all sorts of enterprise and industry applications and not only telco networking.
An app-store for 5G applications
The Android smart-phone can be seen as the model for what we want to do with our telecom networks. Here we have multiple hardware vendors, using the same virtualization environment (Android) to run millions of applications. This is possible due to the app-store with its capabilities to provide: Development environment, Testing, automated onboarding and upgrades.
This is what the industry is aiming for in NFV and 5G where Open stack acts instead of Android. However, the app-store concept so far has not matured except for some leading in CSP’s like Verizon who offers applications via a self-serve portal to enterprises that can be automatically deployed on virtual Customer Premises Equipment (vCPE).
What are the challenges with multi-vendor VNF onboarding?
Currently the NFVI platforms including the Vendor Independant Messaging (VIM) are not standardized to the extent that VNF vendors can rely on a universal reference architecture to test on. Also every CSP has their unique network configuration of hardware and software vendors plus all the vast numbers of parameter settings. Also many of the VNF have code originally written for a certain hardware and since it will take some years more before all this code is re-done as cloud native, the risk of problems will remain. Some VNF’s may never evolve to the cloud native stage. Also some services are complex and involves many VNF’s like VoLTE. In real time communication there is also a number of real-time dependencies, timers and correct sequences that must be considered.
The Ericsson partner VNF certification program
Considering the challenges, todays solution to accelerate NFV and 5G is to attack this in a few different ways. 1) Simplify and system verify the NFVI configuration, 2) Develop cloud native VNF’s. 3) Certify the VNF’s to reduce risk and cost with shorter time to market.
The purpose of the program is to accelerate deployment and reduce risk when onboarding and deploying multi-vendor VNFs on Ericsson NFVI through a comprehensive certification process, and the creation of assets to automate the onboarding.
The Program is built on 3 pillars, a continuous VNF validation service, a standardized testing framework and a market place.
The actual testing will be an automated process for onboarding, test configuration and processing, track issues, present results and finally prepare to move VNF’s into production.
The testing areas include functional, stability, life-cycle management (LCM) and health checks. Various test modules will used like Firewalls, routers, SD-WAN, vSBC, vEPC etc.
The assets outcomes will include Test reports, Heat templates, VNF descriptors and publication on the VNF eco system portal.
Why Ericsson NFVI?
Ericsson has today the strongest position in the market with 140+ customers who has contracted the Ericsson NFVi solution platform so there are some real opportunities here for VNF vendors to capture. Ericsson has already 6 commercial 5G networks in operation across the globe.
Find out more about the Ericsson partner VNF certification.