CNCF, LF Networking flip switch on cloud-native test bed

At MWC, CNCF is demonstrating the same networking code running as virtual network functions on OpenStack and as CNFs on Kubernetes to showcase the performance improvements from avoiding virtualization overhead. (Pixabay)

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) announced on Monday that it has fired up a test bed for cloud-native network functions (CNFs).

CNCF is teaming up with the Linux Foundation's LF Networking (LFN) open source group on the CNF Testbed. At this week's Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, CNCF is demonstrating the same networking code running as virtual network functions (VNFs) on OpenStack and as CNFs on Kubernetes to showcase the performance improvements from avoiding virtualization overhead.

In September, the Linux Foundation announced that LFN was formally working with the CNCF, which is also an open source community hosted by the Linux Foundation, to enable the migration of VNFs to CNFs.

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“CNFs are emerging as the network architecture of the future, for many of the same reasons that containers and Kubernetes are becoming the standard platform for enterprise computing,” said Dan Kohn, executive director of CNCF, in a prepared statement. “We’re excited to continue collaborating with LF Networking to provide telcos and their vendors a way to make replicable comparisons between VNFs and CNFs.”

The test bed announcement at MWC was a public statement of sorts that the two open source cousins are making progress on their collaboration efforts, but some industry experts think that cloud-native is overhyped at this stage.

RELATED: Cloud-native bandwagon rolls on, but doubters exist

The CNF Testbed uses several open source VNFs from ONAP’s virtual customer premises equipment use case while also repackaging the code as containers to be CNFs.

The Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP) provides policy-driven orchestration and automation of physical and virtual network functions, and it's part of the LF Networking umbrella that was announced early last year. The six founding projects of LFN were FD.io, OpenDaylight, ONAP, OPNFV, PDNA and SNAS. 

ONAP takes part in the cncf.ci project, which CNCF runs to integrate, test and deploy CNCF and LF projects on Kubernetes running on bare metal.

"It’s great to see the collaborative work of ONAP and Kubernetes, two of the fastest-growing Linux Foundation projects, as networking and cloud platforms enabling next-generation architectures,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager for networking, edge, and IoT at the Linux Foundation, in the statement. “We’re excited to assist the CNF Testbed in demonstrating a path for the industry to move from VNFs to CNFs.”

The CNF Testbed uses the Community Infrastructure Lab, which makes use of credits provided by bare-metal software vendor Packet. Packet integrates software operating system platforms, including Kubernetes, into bare-metal servers in its public cloud that are hosted in Packet's data center. 

Companies can replicate the test bed results for themselves with a copy of the open source CNF Testbed repository and an API key for accessing Packet.

The test bed focuses on continuous integration (CI) and "replicability," both of which have been key to the development of Kubernetes, which was originally developed by Google. The Kubernetes project runs over 10,000 CI jobs each weekday, which is made possible via the $9 million in Google Cloud Platform credits that were donated from Google to CNCF last year.

Even without counting Kubernetes, Google is far and away the largest code contributor to CNCF. Google accounts for 53% of all code commits to CNCF and has seven times more contributions than Red Hat, according to recent research by Stackalytics.

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