VMware is offering two new certifications for its VMware Ready for Telco Cloud program, which was formerly known as the VMware Ready for NFV program.
Given the complexities of deploying network virtualization functions (NFV) through the years, the new name also reflects a move to the currently more sexy "telco cloud." Along the same lines, VMware first announced its Project Maestro at VMworld 2019 Europe, but changed the name to the Telco Automation Cloud brand earlier this year.
The Ready for Telco Cloud certification program will enable telco network functions vendors to test the interoperability and readiness of their virtual network functions (VNFs) and cloud-native functions (CNFs) with the VMware Telco Cloud platform. Service providers have expressed an interest in migrating to CNFs, but it will probably be a combination of VNFs and CNFs over the next few years.
With the advent of edge computing and wider rollouts of 5G, telco cloud architectures unify IT and network environments and connect them to the various private, public and edge clouds, but there needs to be orchestration to do that. As the cloud and networks evolve with containers, 5G and mobile edge compute, the challenge to contain operational costs will become increasingly more difficult.
To date, VMware said over 35 partners have garnered more than 170 certifications as part of the program. The expanded program offers two new certifications.
The first, VMware Ready for Telco Cloud, certifies network functions for deployment and lifecycle operations through VMware Telco Cloud Automation. VMWare's Telco Automation Cloud is a "cloud down" approach to model, on-board, orchestrate and manage VNFs and CNFS and network services. As part of VMware's Ready for NFV program, Telco Automation Cloud is making VNFs more manageable by taking a cloud-first approach to reduce multi-cloud complexities.
VMware works with its partners to create an ETSI-compliant descriptor, as well as workflow, resource and artifacts for a validated and tested cloud service archive. The certification requires that the vendor partner complete the VMware Ready for Telco Cloud Infrastructure certification as a pre-requisite.
The second certification identifies telco network functions that interoperate with the core infrastructure layers of the VMware Telco Cloud, which is based on the ETSI-compliant vCloud NFV Reference Architecture.
VMware said the focus of that certification layer was on the virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM) based on the VMware Cloud Director, the VMware Integrated OpenStack, and, eventually, container-as-a-service (CaaS).
“As the telecommunications industry starts its migration to 5G and cloud-native telco cloud design principles, there are two trends that will shape the industry for years to come—a need for improved orchestration and a shift of network functions to a cloud native architecture,” said VMware's Gabriele Di Piazza, vice president of solutions, telco and edge cloud, in a statement. “The expanded scope of the VMware Ready for Telco Cloud program reflects VMware’s understanding of these shifts, and our focus on helping customers more seamlessly architect, deploy, and manage software-defined telco clouds.”
The certification program is available at no cost to VMware partners. Testing can be completed either in the VMware on-premise certification lab or in the cloud as a self-service model.
After starting out with virtual machines, VMware is making a concerted effort to expand into the cloud and telco spaces. It has been aligning various elements in its portfolio for telcos and cloud providers.
Service providers have been frustrated for years that vendors' VNFs are too specific to their own solutions, such as customer premises equipment, and therefore take too long to on-board. On the other hand, vendors have complained that it's difficult to make VNFs specific to each service provider, Outside of a few notable exceptions, such as AT&T and Orange, NFV deployments in general have been slowed by the lack of standardized VNFs.
Red Hat has also been trying to improve the onboarding of VNFs, while the Common NFVi Telco Taskforce (CNTT) was founded last year by the Linux Foundation and GSMA as a means to unify NFV infrastructure (NFVi) implementations in order to reduce the friction for onboarding VNFs and CNFs.
CNTT works in tandem with the Linux Foundation's OPNFV Verification Program (OVP), which started out last year with the task of testing commercial VNFs against the reference architectures that the CNTT was developing.