data center researchSoftware defined networking, network function virtualization and cloud computing gained further traction yesterday with the announcement of an implementation platform tying these three technologies together. The announcement came from CloudNFV, a non-profit multi-vendor group that aims to create a working prototype based on the work of the ETSI NFV Industry Specifications Group.

NFV is an initiative aimed at using IT virtualization to consolidate various network devices onto industry-standard high-volume servers, switches and storage. More than a dozen service providers – including AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink and several international carriers – are spearheading NFV. In yesterday’s announcement CloudNFV notes that its activity is “not sanctioned by, or associated with the NFV Industry Specifications Group (ISG) or ETSI,” but also notes that CloudNFV participants are required to be members of NFV ISG.

The initial CloudNFV facilitator is CIMI Corp. whose president Tom Nolle is a long-time telecom industry analyst and consultant who previously played a similar role in spearheading the development of other telecom technologies. In yesterday’s announcement Nolle said CloudNFV was formed with the goal of “working towards an open, effective, manageable and extensible means to deploy NFV using proven cloud principles and techniques.”

Founding members of CloudNFV include 6WIND, Dell, EnterpriseWeb, Overture and Qosmos. CloudNFV will be conducting webinars beginning in late September and will include live, in-person demonstrations conducted at industry events later this year. Additional information about CloudNFV is available on the organization’s website.

Cloud computing’s role in NFV is likely to be to enable the use of virtualized servers. Software defined networking (SDN) is a new approach to networking that separates the control plane from the data plane, making it well suited to support NFV, which also envisions centralized software-based intelligence controlling commodity hardware.

Service providers worldwide are taking substantial interest in SDN, with one analyst firm predicting that 2015 is the year when the industry will see a significant revenue shift toward SDN.

SDN can support a wide range of functionality, not all of which is related to NFV. But NFV certainly seems poised to be one of the key applications for SDN.







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