One of the key success criteria for NFV will be the Orchestration/Management component.  While ETSI/NFV-ISG standards group has published clear guidelines/requirements specification on Management and Orchestration (MANO) for NFV, there is no convergence or unification of Orchestration technologies for NFV.  There are many alternative approaches that include both open source and vendor specific (some of these are based on open source, but have some vendor customization) implementations.   Also, each of the alternative solutions being promoted by various vendors/communities operate at different OSI layers of the network.  Some are good for L4-L7 while others are well suited for L1-L3 management/provisioning.  Others are being promoted as single stack technologies capable of operating at all 7 layers.   Among the many solutions available, there is Openstack, Netconf/YANG, Cloudband by Alcatel-Lucent, Hewlett-Packard NFV Director, Cloudstack, Open Daylight, Openflow, Puppet, Chef and some more. 

This apparent fragmentation is causing many operators and vendors to play the waiting game to see if/when there may be convergence and standardized orchestration technologies available with all of the required functionality needed for efficient deployment and operation of NFV based network infrastructure. Most of the POCs that are currently in progress and those that have been completed have had a level of customized orchestration tools which have depended on the vendors involved in the Operator trial/POC.  F5 is currently working with many of the major vendors in the orchestration space and jointly participating in POCs at several Tier 1 Service Providers across the globe.  F5's approach has been to work closely with the customers' preferred vendors at each POC and ensure that F5's breadth of VNFs are integrated with the service provider’s selected NFV-Orchestrator (NFV-O).  This seems to be working quite well in terms of proving the effectiveness of specific technologies like Openstack, OVSDB, etc, and also in terms of identifying gaps that need to be reported back to the open source communities who can then make the necessary enhancements.  F5 is also actively and positively contributing to these standards organizations, namely Openstack & IETF.  

Please come and visit F5 at our booth while at Mobile World Congress (located in Hall 5, Stand G11) where we will be demonstrating our Big-IP/VE VNF integration with Hewlett Packard's NFV Orchestration engine (HP NFV Director) and Nuage Networks’ SDN Controller. 

Read Part 3:  NFV – Some Real Use Cases. Where are things all heading in the future?