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NFV: From hype towards actual implementation and deployment

Eduard Escalona - i2CAT Foundation, ICM Research Line Manager
Joan A. García-Espín - i2CAT Foundation, Distributed Applications and Networks Area Director
Jordi Ferrer Riera - i2CAT Foundation, Research Engineer
Mr. Diego Lopez - Telefonica I+D

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) has emerged, along with Software-Defined Networking, as one of the most promising paradigms for revolutionising the way we manage networks. The concept of NFV is quite recent, though it is based on technologies that have proven their validity in IT, and it is the result of careful experimenting and evaluation by players in the industry and academy in the latest years. NFV fosters the application of standard IT virtualization technology to consolidate many network equipment types onto industry standard high volume servers, switches and storage. In other words, it promotes the implementation of network functions in software that can run on a range of standard IT hardware in data centres and can be managed (e.g. moved, or replicated) without the need of modifying the physical infrastructure. NFV is mostly being nurtured by the ETSI NFV ISG [ETSI NFV ISG], a group started by nine telecom operators at the beginning of 2013 that has grown up to more than 150 participating organizations since then. The group foresees the identification of relevant standards necessary for making NFV a reality.

A huge majority of the telecom industrial stakeholders claim that virtualizing network functions will help their businesses by reducing management and operational costs, without affecting network performance and service provisioning workflows. In fact, NFV should ease and automate the management of the network functions. Together with SDN, NFV is foreseen as the main enabler of the future network operating system. 

But there are still open questions around NFV that need to be solved before such a major restructuring of network services management.

  • What are the unsolved challenges that prevent an immediate deployment of NFV solutions?
  • How far are the different stakeholders from adopting NFV-implementations in actual production environments? 
  • How does NFV relate to paradigms like SDN and Network as a Service (NaaS)? 
  • Are there open source implementations or is NFV still just hype?
  • Can independent developers create NFV-compliant applications? 

This session will provide insight to NFV from industrial and research points of view. The session panel will foster an interactive discussion involving the audience to address, among others, the abovementioned questions. The primary goal of the session is to provide an overview of the current status of NFV, and to identify and discuss what are the next major steps to be taken towards the adoption of NFV-compliant solutions within production environments in consonance with SDN.

Moreover, the session will count with relevant presence from Geant [Geant], the pan-European data network dedicated to the research and education community, which is increasing its presence in the Public-Private-Partnership and constitutes a de facto partner for experimenting and innovating in Europe. In this respect, the panel will open the discussion around Geant and its key contribution, through Geant3+ and future Geant4 projects for innovating in NFV and SDN technologies.

Finally, two live demos will be performed during the session in order to give a practical perspective of NFV implementation and show how NFV can benefit from open source platforms. The first demonstration will present the first proof-of-concept implementation of the virtualization of the routing function considering the current co-existence of IPv4 and IPv6 and the possibilities brought by OpenFlow-enabled infrastructures. The second demo will demonstrate the benefits of NFV by showcasing the possibilities for application delivery flexibility, virtualization of resources and management and orchestration of optical slices i.e., providing instantiation, separation and independent control of network resource slices.


Joan A. García-Espín i2CAT Foundation, Distributed Applications and Networks Area Director

This presentation was originally reserved for Dirk Kutscher (NEC), but due to last minute issues will not be able to present. Evangelos Haleplidis will proceed with the speech on materialising requirements instead.

Joan A. García-Espín i2CAT Foundation, Distributed Applications and Networks Area Director
Panel Discussion

All speakers will be present in de panel, which will be moderated by:

Joan A. García-Espín i2CAT Foundation, Distributed Applications and Networks Area Director
Mr. Diego Lopez Telefonica I+D
Thursday, 20 Mar
Session (parallel)


i2CAT Foundation, Distributed Applications and Networks Area Director
Telefonica I+D
i2CAT Foundation, ICM Research Line Manager
University of Bristol