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Taking Semantic Tech To Network Function Virtualization Problems

By   /  June 9, 2014  /  No Comments

tmforumpixby Jennifer Zaino

The CloudNFVTM: Dynamic, Data-Driven Management and Operations project from the CloudNFV consortium took the award for most innovative catalyst at last week’s TM Forum Live! conference and expo in Nice, France. T his project is building on the goals of the TM Forum’s Information Framework  (SID) to solve a big problem around network function virtualization: how to link orchestration systems in a virtual network with the other business and operational support systems controlling network policy. Without these connections, services like dynamic quality of service or even automated energy management simply won’t work at scale, according to the press release announcing the award.

The participants in the project included ICT solutions provider Huawei, deep packet inspection and network intelligence vendor Qosmos, and intelligent operations platform company EnterpriseWeb (which The Semantic Web Blog covered most recently here).

To find out what a project focused on enhancing the Forum’s Information Framework and Business Services Suite to make processes dynamic and event-driven – with the goal of enabling zero-touch orchestration and unified management – had to do with semantic technology, The Semantic Web Blog conducted a quick Q&A email session with EnterpriseWeb founder and managing director Dave Duggal. (Duggal was one of the speakers at last summer’s Semantic Technology Business Conference, in a session we previewed here.)

The Semantic Web Blog: For readers that aren’t cloud, networking, infrastructure and/or telecom experts, can you put this project, the CloudNFV consortium, and the impact on the teleco industry into context for us?

Duggal: Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is a movement being led by telecom operators through two major bodies: ETSI (a specifications group) and TM Forum (the telecom industry’s association). NFV is about replacing physical network appliances (specialized firewall, router, [and other] hardware, which is expensive to buy, deploy and maintain) with software.

It is an effort by telecoms to compete with Over-the-Top (OTT) providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, who leverage the network without paying for it or having to abide by the same regulations.

The question is “how do you do that!” for something as big, complex and dynamic as the networks. It’s much more than a few DevOps APIs to deploy VMs (virtual machines) over OpenStack. It goes beyond SDN (software-defined networking), while also being a justifying use-case for SDN. It’s about virtualizing business services so they can be deployed and scaled up and down at will on commodity hardware to optimize telecom infrastructure investments.

To be deployable, NFV has to be adaptive, governable, scalable and resilient. CloudNFV is an eco-system of vendors demonstrating to ETSI and TMF that their higher-level goals – DevOps, service velocity and business agility – are achievable today. EnterpriseWeb provides the enabling technology, a platform for composing, running and managing Virtual Network Functions (VNFs). We can optimize these services in real-time so the operators can maintain quality of service over a volatile network.

In summary, CloudNFV is a consortium helping the Telecom industry modernize its infrastructure so it can be more competitive, leveraging its networks to deliver next generation cloud.

The Semantic Web Blog: And where/how does what EnterpriseWeb has discussed with us before – the semantic enterprise application integration (EAI) concept and/or smart agents  — come into play here?

duggalDuggal: EnterpriseWeb isn’t based on the conventional semantic technology stack (RDF, OWL, SparQL). We have our own patented technology for ‘smart’ data-driven applications and processes. Our system abstracts distributed and diverse resources and presents them as web-resources. Then we support point and click composition of business services linking to these resources.

The approach separates connections from models of things – this allows components to evolve independently as the models keep things loosely-coupled. At run-time we use distributable software agents to bind references in real-time – automating interoperability itself.

The SemanticWeb Blog: Are there next steps around how providers will be able to put the CloudNFV Dynamic, Data-Driven Management and Operations project to real-world use?

Duggal: The project definitely will continue. The award was a big recognition and we’ll now drive forward and build our libraries of Virtual Functions to demonstrate more use cases as well as evolve the management layer’s role-based views and lifecycle management.

This is the biggest movement in telecom. It’s driven by the business that is under immense pressure to transform itself.

All the Catalyst projects are driven by member Forum companies. Other winners were the NFV Management Ecosystem for greatest adoption of framework, and Service Bundling in a B2B2X Marketplace for most significant contribution to Framework.  

About the author

Jennifer Zaino is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology journalism. She has been an executive editor at leading technology publications, including InformationWeek, where she spearheaded an award-winning news section, and Network Computing, where she helped develop online content strategies including review exclusives and analyst reports. Her freelance credentials include being a regular contributor of original content to The Semantic Web Blog; acting as a contributing writer to RFID Journal; and serving as executive editor at the Smart Architect Smart Enterprise Exchange group. Her work also has appeared in publications and on web sites including EdTech (K-12 and Higher Ed), Ingram Micro Channel Advisor, The CMO Site, and Federal Computer Week.

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