A Blog from QualiTest

3 Ways to Keep Your NFV from Becoming a Virtual Nightmare

Add structure to your virtual solution

Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is revolutionizing telecom networking infrastructure, adding agility and scalability while pushing hardware-independence.  Initial and ongoing expenses plummet (leveraging easier marketplace access), location and size constraints disappear, and cloud service providers can get excited again.  All for technology whose white paper is barely 5½ years old.  Keep in mind, the push for 5G is today’s leading telecom trend, and Ixia’s recent survey of senior technology leaders and strategists from service providers and technology companies identifies “flexible and scalable” network as the leading driver for 5G, with NFV and SDN as the secret sauce for enablement.

But while the benefits are far from virtual, new challenges must be overcome.  Hardware independence increases software-reliance, meaning greater bug potential – requiring higher NFV testing needs, of great complexity, and automation for rapid iteration.  If testing is not a primary focus in an agile DevOps process, your product will be abandoned once quality issues appear.  And without an agile DevOps environment, your lifecycle will fester before your product reaches market.  So if you want to survive, here’s what you need to know.

The first thing you need is to understand NFV’s rapid evolution and how it impacts you.  Your upfront costs are much lower with commodity servers reducing your hardware costs, built-in redundancies and availability, and distributed cloud migration allowing you software backup deployment using an N+1 configuration (vs. equipment purchase and storage).  Regarding your on-going activity, Proof of Concepts (PoCs) and trials run fast small-scale, dynamic failure recovery via an orchestrating framework significantly lowers your deployment risk, functionality moves and scalability drive your service innovation, you can share computing resources with low-risk execution of new service trials while using widely available tools and skill-sets, and you should enjoy the overall network performance gains that often accompany hardware cycling.

The next thing you must realize is that those who don’t join up with NFV will become left behind.  NFV is in the learning phase (as demonstrated via PoC’s and strategic planning).  NFV is an enabler of the Internet of Things (IoT), and the NFV adaption pace keeps accelerating.  The SDxCentral predicts the turnover of SDN, NFV and other next-gen networking initiatives (SDx Networking) to surpass $105B/year by 2020; the CAGR for NFV through 2020 is around 45%.  Operators are moving from PoC’s to vendor collaborations to develop and produce software solutions which is already seeing limited commercial deployment this year. These technologies will impact almost 80% of the purchasing decisions associated with all networking revenue by the end of 2020, affecting virtually every customer segment within the networking space.

The last thing you must learn is the paradigm shift.  You and your partners must change your way of thinking, and adapt to survive.  This is a telecom organization cultural transformation, not just a technologies shift.  NFV enables accelerated time-to-market by delivering the flexibility and agility you need to move and scale functionality to address changing business requirements, allowing you to bring up services anytime and anywhere worldwide!  NFV involves complex integration of various software elements, piece by piece, from granular to complex.

The NFV design plan is test-design driven, where testing is the gatekeeper of quality and a vocal Agile team member. The variety of NFV infrastructures mean more testing will be required by the carriers.  More test automation is required to support agility, impact testing and regression testing.  Frequent updates in the Network services mean more management and orchestration testing. NFV test strategies are needed to accelerate and ensure the delivery of NFV solutions with guaranteed quality taking into consideration the technological, business and culture dimension.

You need to know our NFV validation process.  With systems more focused on software than hardware, software flaws can easily kill your product.  Our comprehensive NFV testing methodology consists of pre-defined assets: over 580 test requirements, over 6,000 test cases, and over 1,000 test scripts, designed to fully test Management and Organization (MANO), NFV Infrastructure (NFVI) and Virtual Network Functions (VNF).  We partner with most major NFV vendors to provide you with the right technical knowledge and test tools to ensure a smooth migration.  Our experience can help you succeed.

You need to know our NFV validation process.  With systems more focused on software than hardware, software flaws that kill quality can in turn kill your product.  Our comprehensive NFV testing methodology consists of pre-defined assets: over 580 test requirements, over 6,000 test cases, and over 1,000 test scripts, designed to fully test MANO, NFVI and VNF.  We partner with most major NFV vendors to provide you with the right technical knowledge and test tools to ensure a smooth migration.  Our experience can help you succeed.  The pieces of setting up and testing an NFV ecosystem are: NFV Test Policy, European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV Industry Specification Group (ISG) compliance, selecting MANO vendors, MANO testing, and VNF migration.  We also recommend a managed testing solution backed by a Service Level Agreement (SLA) which includes customer-defined Key Performance Indicator (KPI), to provide peace-of-mind to your business process priorities.