In August 2011, Marc Andreessen famously quipped in a Wall Street Journal article that “software is eating the world.” About a year later, network functions virtualization (NFV) took root, and our entire telecommunications industry began its journey from purpose-built boxes to software.
And as we march toward 5G, we’ve just made that journey easier and faster by giving our partners a new choice in our VMware Ready for NFV program: self-certification.
Vast Ecosystem of VNFs
But first, here’s a little background about how we’ve built a vast ecosystem of virtual network functions (VNFs) with choice at its heart.
VMware has been involved in NFV from the get-go, helping the telecommunication industry’s transformation and paving the way for the migration to software. We have provided our telco customers with a carrier-grade NFV platform and supported them with openness and choices where they matter most: Our customers can pick their virtualized infrastructure manager of choice, decide on their servers of choice, and most importantly, pick from a massive ecosystem of network functions that have we have certified in our lab to work with VMware vCloud NFV.
The ecosystem certification program we run is called VMware Ready for NFV. It is part of the VMware Ready partner program. Ready for NFV won industry awards and grew into a massive ecosystem encompassing many of the telecommunication industry’s traditional and emerging suppliers.
We recently announced our self-certification extension to the Ready for NFV program. Self-certification gives partners yet another choice: The option to use the VMware testing cloud to verify that their network functions work with VMware vCloud NFV. Self-certification also helps prepare relevant workloads for easy deployment with VMware Telco Cloud Automation.
The original on-premises path that tests partner network functions in the VMware lab remains available. It is well suited to certifying large network functions and hardware-dependent functions.
The cloud-based self-certification path gives partners more flexibility to define their own time lines, helps them certify more workloads, and reduces dependencies on building an on-premises lab for preparations.
Regardless of the path that a partner takes to certification, the program’s scope and test methodology is identical. The program maintains its high quality standards by using the same automation for both the on-premises and the cloud-based certifications.
Benefits of Self-Certification
Our passion in operating the program has always been helping our partners and our customers with their journey to the world of software. The self-certification option advances our customers’ transformation to software in four ways:
- Choice. Our customers are in different phases of their journey. They operate different versions of our platform and different versions of their virtual network functions. By offering a self-certification extension, we help vendors verify that any version of their software is ready to quickly be deployed in any version of our customers’ telco cloud.
- Agility. The first few migration projects take a while and are a learning phase for an organization: processes get tuned, operational aspects are ironed out, and sometimes even the procurement process changes. We then see a clear hockey-stick effect in VNF deployment. Because self-certification is easier and quicker than using our on-premises lab, we expect to see the hockey-stick effect appear earlier in the deployment process.
- Efficiency. The VMware Ready for NFV program has evolved over the past four years. These days the program focuses on educating vendors on our platform capabilities. We see that our partners want hands-on experience with our platform to follow our test plan and evaluate their readiness. By giving our partners a virtual lab that mirrors our reference architecture, we help them prepare without needing a large hardware installation.
- Focus. Our Ready for NFV team has probably more experience onboarding and deploying virtual network functions than any other organization in the world. The team has performed more than 120 certifications. And we wanted to allow our team to really focus on what our partners need the most–guidance when unique problems arise. The self-certification program frees our resources to help partners with their unique and hard questions.
The process to use the self-certification program is easy. Our partners can point their browser to a url, download a few artifacts, launch a remote desktop, and onboard their network function into our testing cloud. The partner then selects the tests to be executed.
Once the tests are complete, the partner sees a graphical representation of their network function’s success against the certification guide. The partner can then decide on the next steps. If all is well, the partner provides our team with the report bundle. To maintain the program’s high quality standards, an engineer in the Ready for NFV program reviews the results.
Figure 1: The VMware Ready for NFV self-certification process.
Speeding Up the Software-Defined Transition to 5G
The telecommunications industry is doubling down on software. In the last seven years, we adopted virtual machines as a way to deploy network functions. And we are now embracing containers to further increase the efficiency of software-based telco workloads. 3GPP standards are written with software in mind such that transitioning from 4G to 5G networks is impossible without software.
We are committed to supporting our customers on the path to 5G by accelerating their transformation, reducing their operational costs, and improving their time to market.
Thanks for reading Jambi Ganbar, Director, Telco Partners Solution Validation, VMware
Connect with us: To certify a network function through the VMware Ready for NFV program, reach out to us at TelcoCloudCertification@vmware.com.