Orchestration soup

The fledgling NFV market is in a frenzy about “Orchestration”. Orchestration is billed as the evolution and convergence of OSS, next generation self-optimising networks and the answer to several other CSP world hungers. This Orchestration ambition has great merit and ETSI did a great job getting the industry to sit up and listen and continues to figure it all out.

However, the term Orchestration has become massively overused and ambiguous, it reminds me of the confused conversation we have around what everyone means about “Policy” and “Service”. We now spend the first 20 mins of every customer or partner meeting discussing what everyone in the room means when they say orchestration.

Every vendor in the NFV supply chain has an orchestration offering. VNF vendors have orchestrators to manage their network software. Virtual test vendors have orchestrators to run their test/probes. “Service” Orchestrators are required to sit across vendor specific orchestrators and to span multiple data centres.

NFV orchestration tasks typically represent the next generation of element management or fulfilment style use cases. These tasks are just one category of many lifecycle tasks required to automate the complete lifecycle of virtual network functions and services. This operational automation is key to delivering an NFV business case and accelerating market adoption.

The automation of virtual network and service lifecycle tasks from initial onboarding of VNF software to continuous service management maps exactly to the objectives and tools from the Enterprise IT DevOps movement. DevOps promotes the chaining of tools that automate Development and Operational lifecycle tasks into a single self-optimising feedback loop. The NFV industry needs to organise its various orchestrators as tools that can be chained together to automate a complete set of VNF-to-Service operational lifecycle tasks. Rather than discussing Orchestration in general terms.

All orchestrators need to play their individual role in a broader “DevOps” toolchain to realise the benefits of NFV.

Jarkko Multanen

Jarkko Multanen

Sunday 9 April, 2017