Author Archives: Yves Hertoghs

VMware partners with Broadband Forum to instantiate 1st European Open Broadband Lab – a multi-vendor Industry Sandbox for innovation and incubation for Cloud based Broadband.

I am excited to see the next wave of innovation VMware is bringing to the table in the Cloud Central Office Project at Broadband Forum (BBF)!  VMware has partnered with Broadband Forum (see press release) in creating the 1st European Open Broadband Lab , at the European Advanced Networking Test Center (EANTC) premises in Berlin.

The business advantages of an Open Broadband Lab are manifold:

  • Service Providers can now leverage a vendor-neutral, and multi-vendor-capable Cloud environment.  They can use this enviroment to verify their Broadband Use Cases and verify interoperability across vendor provided and/or Open Source solutions. Furthermore, they can consume the environment ‘-as-a-service’ and can count on its ability to bootstrap various topologies.  This removes the need for staging of interoperability labs.
  • Vendors can demonstrate their value, and their interoperability capabilities with other vendors and/or Open Source in an open, collaborative and neutral manner.
  • The Broadband Forum can use the Open Broadband Lab to verify and influence its Technical Work with the Cloud Central Office Project.
  • The industry as a whole profits from this Industry Sandbox, enabling innovation and incubation for Cloud Broadband.

Cloud Central Office, a foundation for the Open Broadband Lab

The Cloud Central Office’s aim is to define an architecture for a distributed Cloud based Broadband System that leverages Software defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV), consumeable  -as-a-Service.

As a short recap of my previous blog, here is how work is progressed at the Cloud Central Office Project at BBF to that effect:

  • Use Cases for a Cloud Central Office are documented through “Application Notes” (AppNotes). These show the needed interactions across the Interfaces between the Functional Elements in the Cloud Central Office Architectural Framework, as a result of an outside actor engaging with the system.
  • The chain of interactions between the Functional Elements define WHAT functionality is needed inside those Functional Elements without needing to know HOW it is achieved. This allows implementations leveraging Open Source and/or Vendor Provided Software.
  • Candidates for Interfaces are documented (both in terms of the protocol, as well as the information flowing over those interfaces). It is assumed that existing Standards or OpenSource Interfaces will be leveraged as much as possible.
  • AppNotes are instantiated and Test Cases are executed to perform a gap analysis is in order to see whether:
    • The candidate Interface is working as expected.
    • Information Models have to be developed for it (e.g. YANG models, etc).
    • Open Source APIs/Interfaces will have to be adapted or perhaps even upstreamed back into the relevant Open Source community.

The First European Open Broadband Lab, enabled by VMware

In order to allow instantiating these  AppNotes in a Vendor-Neutral and Multi-Vendor environment, various ‘Open Broadband Labs’ will be created across the globe.  Open Broadband Labs will also provide an industry sandbox to accelerate multi-vendor innovation and incubation in areas like Cloud Broadband, 5G, network slicing and wireless-wireline convergence, independent of the AppNotes process.

For the European Open Broadband Lab at EANTC in Berlin, VMware has provided the NFVI portion of the TR-384 Architectural Framework by implementing our VMware vCloud NFV– Openstack Edition, see figure 1 below.

Figure 1 : vCloud NFV as basis for the Open Broadband Lab

VMware vCloud NFV is an ETSI-compliant, fully integrated, modular, multi-tenant platform, and by providing an OpenStack Virtual Infrastructure Manager, we are providing an Open Interface towards 3rdparty Virtual Network Function Managers (VNFM) and Network Function Virtualization Orchestrators (NFVO), including Open Source MANO (OSM) and Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP).  vCloud NFV includes NSXvSpherevSAN, and a range of vRealize Suite products to allow Day 2 Operations such as vRealize Log InsightvRealize Operations, and vRealize Network Insight.

Consumption of the Open Broadband Lab

The Lab, as seen in Figure 2 below, will provide internal Active Directory, DNS and NTP services for internal components, as well as firewalled external access to a set of components such as:

  • A Jumpbox, to allow ingesting software and other artifacts, to upgrade the lab, or install new software components.
  • A Terminal Server, to allow access to the management components of the Lab, for remote management
  • API access to the Services built on top of the Lab.
  • remote access is achieved through VPN and the Domain API is accessible for remote on-boarding of new services.

Figure 2 : Remote Access into the Open Broadband Lab

We are very exited to be helping Broadband Forum in their efforts of making the next generation Broadband Architecture a reality! Furthermore, this shows that VMware is serious about Next Generation Telco Infrastructure by providing this ‘Industry Sandbox!

For more information, or to be part of the Open Broadband Lab, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

An Update on the work in Broadband Forum’s Cloud Central Office Project (and why it is important to VMware).

Back in 2016 VMware joined the Broadband Forum (BBF), a consortium of Telecommunication Service Providers, System Integrators and Technology Vendors, as the first Software Vendor. The BBF, amongst other things, develops best practices for the ‘Cloud Central Office’ (CloudCO), a next generating Central Office deployment. CloudCO makes innovative use of the following attributes:

  • A Cloud ‘Anything-as-as-service’ (Xaas) consumption interface,
  • Network Function Virtualization (NFV), and
  • Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Ultra-Fast access (and when formally defined 5G).

The aim is to deliver ultra-fast broadband services with distributed compute and storage to anywhere and any device in home or business locations.  I have been personally very active at the Broadband Forum as the Cloud Central Office Project Stream Leader, setting out the direction and leading the work.  For some history on the Cloud CO project, check my previous blog post here.

The Cloud Central Office Project Stream has accomplished quite a lot already:

  • Defined the Cloud Central Office Reference Architectural Framework in TR-384.
  • Delivered Applicability Scenarios and suggested legacy Use Cases that had to be supported on a Cloud Central Office based architecture, in TR-416.

Work is progressing on Interface Descriptions (WT-411), a catalogue of Test Cases (WT-412) to verify and/or augment these interfaces.  Other work includes co-existence with, and migration from legacy Broadband Architectures (WT-408), amongst other things. Check out my update videos on the BBF website where I elaborate on the progress made to date!

What is the Cloud Central Office?

A TR-384 based architecture aims to disaggregate a lot of the functionality that used to live in monolithic devices such as Broadband Network Gateways (BNG) and other devices.  These devices will be de-composed into various Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), and onboarded onto a Network Function Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI).  Access Devices will also leverage  disaggregation in order to move the control and management plane functions to the NFVI, while using SDN to send traffic to the NFVI hosted VNFs.  The NFVI will be implemented on a Software Defined Data Center inside the Central Office i.e. leveraging commodity switches and x86-based servers, such as the one depicted in Figure 1 . IETF NVO3-style Overlays are leveraged for connectivity and security across the NFVI.

(Note, our VMware vCloud NFV is an example of such an NFVI and NSX is our NVO3 compatible solution).

Figure 1: Cloud Central Office Physical Topology

SDN techniques steers Broadband Traffic received from the user at Access I/O devices to the VNFs inside the NFVI.  The Access I/O Control Plane and Management Plane moves off-box by leveraging SDN as well.  After going through the various Network Functions inside the NFVI, traffic travels to the Network I/O devices towards its destination.

The Cloud Central Office Architectural Framework

Although TR-384 is based on the philosophy of certain Open Source projects, it is not ‘yet-another-open-source’ project.  TR-384 defines ‘black boxes’ of functionality inside Functional Modules, with Interfaces describing how these Functional Modules interoperate. In other words, it defines WHAT the functional modules do, but not HOW  to achieve the functionality.  Open and common Interface descriptions achieves interoperability between those functional modules, regardless whether implementing leveraging Open Source software, or Vendor Provider Software.   TR-384’s architectural framework, shown in  Figure 2 below,is compliant with ETSI’s NFV Reference Model.  It adds a couple of extra SDN related components, to allow interworking between Physical Network Functions (such as Access-facing, and Network-facing functions, amongst others), and the VNFs running inside the Cloud Central Office NFVI.

Figure 2 : Cloud Central Office Architectural Framework

Application Notes

The exact nature and definitions of those Interfaces is still a work in progress and will be documented in WT-411.  WT-411 will re-use interfaces available in the industry (Open Standards, or Open Source) as much as possible, and where functionality is missing, it will generate requirements for Standard definitions, or requirements for upstreaming new functionality in Open Source projects, where applicable.  The way that these eventual new requirements will come to light is by using an Agile Methodology through the use of Application Notes, or AppNotes (for a set of publicly available AppNotes, see here).  AppNotes will also become a way for Communication Service Providers to define new and innovative services , using the TR-384 Architectural Framework.

AppNotes are a set of interactions between Cloud Central Office Functional Modules, typically starting with a given actor initiating an interaction at the Cloud Central Office Domain Level Northbound API, or an actor initiating a data plane flow.  The set of Interactions lead to requirements for the Interfaces.  In order to generate those requirements, the AppNote is instantiated running on a real-life Cloud Central Office architecture (see my Open Broadband Lab post here) and will be tested against a set of Test Cases, which will be defined in another set of work i.e. WT-412.   This might result in new requirements for Open Interface and/or Upstreaming into existing Open Source Projects.  Figure 3 shows the relationship between AppNotes, Interface work (WT-411) and Testing efforts (WT-412).

Figure 3 : AppNotes and how they relate to other work.

Why is this work important for VMware?

Our VMware vCloud NFV solution, leveraging VMware NSX, aims to be an NFVI that is truly vendor independent, both from an Underlay, as well as from an VNF perspective. It is our believe that Open standards and open interfaces, combined with a vendor-independent NFV infrastructure, are essential for operators looking for a cost-effective and smooth migration to next-generation architectures.  Broadband Forum’s AppNote approach aims to define Open Interface specifications, while guaranteeing multi-vendor interoperability, and that is why we are very exited about helping out the industry with this work.

I hope this update has been useful and don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have remarks or questions!

VMware Leads the Cloud Central Office Project at Broadband Forum

VMware has joined the Broadband Forum (BBF), a consortium of Telecommunication Service broadbandforumcmykwebProviders, System Integrators and Technology Vendors. The BBF develops best practices for Home and Business Broadband deployment that will enable new revenue-generating services and new types of content delivery while establishing technology migration strategies. The BBF has the vision that the innovative use of Network Function Virtualization (NFV), Software-Defined Networking (SDN), Ultra-Fast access, IoT (Internet of Things), and when formally defined, 5G, will enable the delivery of ultra-fast broadband services with distributed compute and storage to anywhere and any device in home or business locations.

VMware is the first virtualization company to join the BBF, and is ready to help the BBF and the industry with our technology leadership in compute, networking and storage virtualization, and experience shaping the future of cloud transformation for service providers and enterprises alike. Continue reading