On October 3, Chinese ICT company Huawei announced that Dr. Anthony C. K. Soong, its chief scientist for wireless research and standards in the US, has joined the board of directors of Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV), an open-source reference platform intended to accelerate the introduction of new products and services.
Dr. Soong stated that “OPNFV will be instrumental in providing a reference platform for driving adoption of well-documented, integrated and tested open source components for NFV deployments in growing industry segments such as M2M communications and future technologies such as 5G.”
Further to Dr. Soong’s appointment, George Reed, SVP of solutions and marketing for Huawei Technologies USA, will be joining the marketing committee.
As board president Margaret Chiosi explained, “The industry’s shift to SDN and NFV is changing the way applications are delivered and consumed. As operators strive to meet the demands of consumers and enterprises for services in today’s Internet of Things era, collaboration among operators and companies such as Huawei will help to address these challenges head-on.”
OPNFV was established by the Linux Foundation to accelerate the introduction of new products and services and to drive standards in the NFV arena. Dr. Soong joins a board that has members from companies including CableLabs, Red Hat, Cisco, Juniper, IBM, Ericsson, and Brocade.
NFV is the yin to SDN’s yang. SDN (software-defined networking) entails the separation of the control plane from the forwarding functions. NFV (network functions virtualization) involves the splitting of functions into discrete units, like server virtualization has done for servers. NFV and SDN are very much complementary products. From a VMware perspective, you could look at NSX as SDN and possibly vCNS as NFV. In the open-source world, OpenFlow is the king of the hill for NFV. So to sum, up SDN is concerned with the control plane, and NFV is concerned with the data plane.
In the greater scheme of things, NFV is likely the more important of these technologies, but for it to be successful, SDN needs greater adoption. Both technologies align on the use of commodity servers and switches; they are complementary. However, NFV is the key to transforming the network layer and decoupling services from proprietary appliances. Moving it to software simplifies the data plane. This is very important with service providers that require multi-tenancy.
As I see it, the main benefit that Huawei will receive from this appointment is the ability to influence the direction of new standards. That Huawei has been invited to the head table is an acknowledgement of its growing power within the ITC industry.