Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia create joint NFV interoperability testing initiative

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Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia have signed a joint memorandum of understanding (MoU) to create the NFV Interoperability Testing Initiative (NFV-ITI) with an aim to assist service providers with NFV deployment and cloud transformation within multivendor network environments.

While service providers of all sizes are at some stage of implementing NFV into their network, the challenge is that the deployment and integration of virtual network functions within today's multivendor environments can introduce new interoperability challenges.

In order to overcome these issues, NFV-ITI members will cooperatively support the interoperability of NFV elements in specific customer situations to accelerate the commercial implementations, and to reduce the time-to-market for new applications and services.

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Up until now, the current NFV interoperability related testing activities have been driven by different needs of the industry, including the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV Testing WG, OPNFV testing projects, Network Vendor Interoperability Testing (NVIOT) testing and the New IP Agency (NIA) interoperability testing.

Seeking to complement the industry’s existing NFV interoperability testing activities, NFV-ITI will focus on testing interoperability configurations of commercial NFV solutions actually used in the communication service providers' networks.

The group will also recommend generic principles, including interoperability test cases, test criteria, processes, methods, guidelines, templates and testing tools, and will also apply best practices from all existing interoperability testing activities in the industry, such as the NVIOT forum efforts. Additionally, NFV-ITI will be aligned with the ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group and the OPNFV project.

While the group has an initial four members, the group said that relevant NFV vendors are welcome to join this initiative by ratifying the NFV-ITI MoU. 

Being able to establish groups like NFV-ITI comes at a time when service providers like AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon are beginning to ramp up their NFV deployments.

IHS Markit revealed in a survey released in August that 100% of service providers said they will deploy NFV “at some point,” with 81% expecting to put it in their network in 2017. Additionally, 59% of service provider respondents said they have deployed or will deploy NFV this year.

While service providers have their own specific service targets for NFV, IHS Markit revealed in its study that business services will be the initial target.

The research firm said that service providers will leverage NFV to deliver virtualized enterprise customer premises equipment (vE-CPE), or vBranch or enterprise vCPE services, to business customers.