Management: the Missing Piece in the NFV Conversation

As I watch the world of NFV, I cannot help but notice that an important conversation is not occurring. When the topic of “Management” comes up around NFV, the conversation always seems to be about onboarding and orchestrating VNFs, i.e. MANO and Day 0. While this is certainly an important topic and an area where there are a lot of new trails to blaze, the topic of managing VNFs after Day 0 does not rise to the top of conversations. This is a vitally important topic which I feel needs more discussion.

Perhaps people are assuming that VNFs will be managed post-Day 0 in the same way that traditional network elements have been managed. Following the traditional processes with the same methods will only lead to failure. NFV has several aspects such as elasticity, scale, increased multi-vendor, etc. that further highlight the deficiencies of traditional management techniques such as manual configuration and CLI scripting.

Day 1 and beyond management of VNFs only emphasizes the need for automation in network management. As an industry, we have learned from past experiences that traditional network element management techniques are not a good, clear path to automation. The key to successfully automating is network programmability.

Network programmability starts with having programmable network elements. Programmability becomes extremely important for management of VNFs post-Day 0. Programmability provides flexibility, scalability, solves multi-vendor issues, and enables innovation for new solutions and services. This programmability needs to be based on standards such as NETCONF, RESTCONF, YANG, and standards defined data models. Other approaches such as vendor-specific, proprietary REST APIs do not successfully address the multi-vendor issue.

What the industry needs is more conversations around management of VNFs after they are up and running.

If attending NFV World Congress/Layer123 in early May, come join the conversation at our presentation being held Thursday, May 4 at 2:40 PM PDT in the Operations forum. The topic “Trends in VNF Management” is perfect for learning about VNF management challenges, why they make network programmability even more important for implementing automation, and what network programmability is and how to achieve it. Stop by and see what we are up to as well in Booth #13.

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