Linux Foundation helps blend automation and cloud-native communities

ONAP and CNCF are working on advancing VNFs into cloud enviroments as service providers move to cloud-native architectures. (Pixabay)

The Linux Foundation announced a deeper collaboration between telecom and cloud industry leaders that should lead to better cloud-native use cases.

The Linux Foundation's LF Networking (LFN) is formally working with the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) to improve the migration of virtual network function (VNFs) to cloud-native network functions (CNFs).

ONAP, which is a part of LF Networking, and CNCF's Kubernetes are coming together as operators start to look at how VNFs could evolve into CNFs running on Kubernetes.

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“We have seen service providers embrace open source networking in large numbers. Benefits of virtualization and VNFs, coupled with automation platforms like ONAP, are now de facto deployment models,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, the Linux Foundation, in a prepared statement. “As edge, IoT, 5G and AI start using these highly automated cloud platforms, we are excited to see the best of both worlds come together—the scale and portability of cloud coupled with the agility, reliability and automation of telecom.”

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Telcos in particular have needed a clearer defination of cloud-native architectures as they start to embrace  cloud enviroments, containers and Kubernetes.

“Many definitions of cloud-native exist, and the essence to me is breaking a function into its more atomic or molecular elements—microservices, which can be recomposed into a variety of user- or operator-defined versions of the original function," said IHS Markit's Michael Howard, executive director, research and analysis, carrier networks. "As we learned from Google, etc., the ability to change a microservice at a time, rather than the full function, facilitates DevOps, and much easier, more automated ways to modify software applications on the fly. Many operators tell us that for some applications, VMs are better, while containers are optimal for others.

"On the whole, I laud Linux Foundation and the industry for these collective efforts, as they are steps toward more automated, and even self driving networks.”

ONAP’s first release, Amsterdam, represented the second stage of network architecture evolution by running virtual machines (VMs) in OpenStack, VMware, Azure or Rackspace environments. ONAP’s next release, Casablanca, will run Kubernetes and works on any public, private, or hybrid cloud. ONAP currently supports VNFs on either VMs—running on OpenStack or VMware—or containers running on Kubernetes via KubeVirt or Virtlet.

In June, ONAP's second software release, which is called Beijing, included the ONAP Operations Manager (OOM), which helps service providers instantiate and bring up all the containers and the microservices of ONAP one after the other. With OOM, service providers can pick and choose the containers that they want to bring up.

Along with OOM, ONAP's multivirtualized infrastructure manager (VIM) is also one of the cloud native projects that the are being addressed. OpenDaylight's Fraser release, which expanded cloud native NFV capabilities in nine different projects, will also be in the mix of projects that ONAP and CNCF will be working on.

CNCF's Cross-cloud Continuous Integration (CI) will be used to check the interoperability and cross-cloud deployments of all cloud native technologies and show the daily status of builds and deployments on a status dashboard. Other elements include Istio, which allows users to connect, manage and secure microservices for both containerized and noncontainerized workloads, and Ligato. Ligato provides a platform and code samples for development of cloud native VNFs.

"Containerization has been one of the cornerstones of our network transformation,” said Catherine Lefevre, AVP of research technology management, AT&T. “Cloud-native development represents the next level of efficiency as part of the ONAP target architecture and we’re excited to be a part of this initiative. We expect significant benefits from the OOM Project, such as improved scalability and resiliency, as well as additional cost efficiencies.”

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