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The deployment of network functions virtualization, or NFV, can bring significant benefits to service providers. These benefits include agility, lower costs and promises of operational efficiency. But service providers must choose from leading open source options and a variety of vendor-supplied offerings for their NFV orchestration platforms.
Many service providers are accelerating their NFV deployments for a wide variety of uses. But as NFV hits the mainstream, they are reporting challenges like poor scalability, limited interoperability and operational complexity. As they move from siloed deployments -- e.g., a single virtual network function or VNF -- providers increasingly face NFV deployment and scale challenges, especially for multivendor environments.
NFV orchestration automates the deployment of multiple network software components. Orchestration allows service providers to create specific revenue-producing services by provisioning the appropriate resources and service chaining a number of VNFs. It also provides the dynamic and elastic scaling of services.
When selecting NFV orchestration platforms, service providers face a plethora of confusing options. The two primary paths are open source options from leading standards organizations and orchestration platforms from specific technology suppliers.
Open source NFV orchestration platforms
The two primary open source management and orchestration (MANO) options are both being driven by standards groups.
Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP). Under The Linux Foundation, ONAP combines AT&T's Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy architecture and the Open-Orchestrator Project -- commonly known as ECOMP and Open-O, respectively -- to provide a comprehensive MANO platform for service providers deploying NFV. Converging 13 million lines of code is a complex and time-consuming effort, so look for the ONAP offering to mature in 2018.
Open Source MANO (OSM). Led by many European service providers, including Telefónica, OSM is hosted by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute as a project to delivery open source MANO. OSM produced its first release in 2016 and plans for continued updates.
Many network equipment providers, IT firms and independent software vendors offer NFV orchestration platforms and MANO offerings. Below are some available options:
Other suppliers include Anuta Networks, Netcracker Technology, Netrounds and Red Hat.
Learn how NFV automation and orchestration differ
OpenStack and VMware lead the way for NFV infrastructure
NFV standards need to address orchestration
Dig Deeper on Network virtualization technology
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