As I was strolling the GSMA stand at Mobile World Congress grabbing chotskies for my kids, I saw a small plush toy monkey that I figured my son would like. I asked nicely as I grabbed for it if I could have that monkey, but the rep from the GSMA told me, “Sorry sir, there is no such thing as a free monkey.” If I wanted that monkey I would have to play a game, so I decided to play along to try to get my monkey. If you’re wondering what this has to do with NFV interoperability, just hold on, it will become less opaque, hopefully.
Multivendor interoperability within NFV environments is going to be a challenge. Not only do vendors and operators need to make sure the functionality they are porting to a cloud environment interoperate with other vendor applications (just like you have today with physical network functions), but you also need to ensure interoperability with the virtualization environments as well as the management and orchestration processes at the infrastructure, application, and end-to-end services layers. So by moving to a virtualized environment, vendors have traded one degree of interoperability for three, but I’m sure no one is shedding a tear over that. So we’ve seen a proliferation of test beds and ecosystems pop up to try to streamline the onboarding process for VNFs in order to make sure they work with a virtualization environment.
We recently did a proof of concept with Oracle Communications - that we also showed in real time at Mobile World Congress - that highlighted multivendor interoperability and automated lifecycle management. You can see a video of the interoperability demo by going to www.dialogic.com/nfv_demo. In it, we demonstrate the ability of the Dialogic PowerMedia Media Resource Broker (MRB) and PowerMedia XMS Media Resource Function (MRF) acting as a composite virtualized network function to automatically scale in an Oracle Communications OpenStack environment by providing run-time KPIs to the Oracle Communications Application Orchestrator, which is their VNF Manager. Along the way, we also showed the value that functional decomposition has when it comes to separating the media processing function from traditional voice and video application servers.
What we realized in going through the on-boarding process was that there truly was no “free monkey” when it comes to NFV interoperability. While it can take some cycles to get VNFs to interoperate within an NFV environment, especially since NFV MANO interface specifications are still being developed, with alignment to these emerging specifications and by providing open APIs for interworking, the on-boarding process can go relatively smoothly.
By the way, I now own that monkey. Or at least my kids do! Find out more about Dialogic interoperability with 3rd party MANO provider Oracle Communications by following this link, and tweet us with your NFV interoperability story at @Dialogic.