What OPNFV Makes Possible in Open Source
Amar Kapadia | 30 November 2017
Over the past several weeks, we have been discussing the Understanding OPNFV book (see links to previous articles below). In this last article in the series, we will look at why you should care about the project and how you can get involved.
OPNFV provides both tangible and intangible benefits to end users. Tangible benefits include those that directly impact business metrics, whereas the intangibles include benefits that speed up the overall NFV transformation journey but are harder to measure. The nature of the OPNFV project, where it primarily focuses on integration and testing of upstream projects and adds carrier-grade features to these upstream projects, can make it difficult to understand these benefits.
To understand this more clearly, let’s go back to the era before OPNFV. Open source projects do not, as a matter of routine, perform integration and testing with other open source projects. So, the burden of taking multiple disparate projects and making the stack work for NFV primarily fell on Communications Service Providers (CSPs), although in some cases vendors shouldered part of the burden. For CSPs or vendors to do the same integration and testing didn’t make sense.
Furthermore, upstream communities are often horizontal in their approach and do not investigate or prioritize requirements for a particular industry vertical. In other words, there was no person or entity driving carrier grade features in many of these same upstream projects. OPNFV was created to fill these gaps.
Tangible and Intangible Benefits
With this background, OPNFV benefits become more clear. Chapter 10 of the book breaks down the tangible and intangible benefits further. Tangible benefits to CSPs include:
- Faster rollout of new network services
- Vendor-agnostic platform to onboard and certify VNFs
- Stack based on best-in-class open source components
- Reduced vendor lock-in
- Ability to drive relevant features in upstream projects
Additionally, the OPNFV community operates using DevOps principles and is organized into small, independent and distributed teams. In doing so, OPNFV embodies many of the same practices used by the web giants. CSPs can gain valuable insight into people and process changes required for NFV transformation by engaging with OPNFV. These intangible benefits include insights into:
- Organizational changes
- Process changes
- Technology changes
- Skillset acquisition
OPNFV is useful not only for CSPs, however; it also provides benefits to vendors (technology providers) and individuals. Vendors can benefit from interoperability testing (directly if their products are open source, or indirectly through private testing or plugfests), and gain insights into carrier-grade requirements and industry needs. Individuals can improve their skills by gaining broad exposure to open source NFV. Additionally, users can learn how to organize their teams and retool their processes for successful NFV transformation.
The primary objective of the OPNFV project is to provide users with open source technology they can use and tailor for their purposes, and the Understanding OPNFV book covers the various aspects to help you get started with and get the most out of OPNFV. The last section of the book also explains how you might get involved with OPNFV and provides links to additional OPNFV resources.
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