Testing Lab Planned for Network Functions Virtualization

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) announced its plans to build what it describes as the first North American vendor-neutral lab for testing network functions virtualization (NFV) component interoperability.

NFV, along with its counterpart, software-defined networking (SDN), is transforming modern network virtualization in carrier and enterprise datacenters. NFV is defined by Wikipedia as "a network architecture concept that uses the technologies of IT virtualization to virtualize entire classes of network node functions into building blocks that may connect, or chain together, to create communication services."

Basically, NFV decouples functions such as network address translation, firewalling, load balancing, WAN acceleration, intrusion detection, domain name service, caching and so on from the hardware plane, moving it to the software virtualization level.

The TIA NFV lab, planned to open early next year, will be the first vendor-neutral facility in North America to test the interoperability of components that provide this functionality, according to the trade association.

"In an era of smartphones and video streaming, demand for data has skyrocketed and will continue to increase with the expansion of the Internet of Things and 5G wireless technologies," the TIA said in a statement yesterday. "To ensure adequate network capacity, providers are moving away from specialized network hardware to NFV and SDN technologies, which utilize flexible cloud-based solutions. These virtual services, which operate on a scalable and adaptable network, demand testing that ensures they work in real-world environments and are interoperable with a variety of other services."

The TIA NFV lab will work with all communications industry segments, including OEMs, developers, integrators, researchers, customers and end users, the TIA said. It will leverage an initial framework for NFV industry specifications -- developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV Industry Specification Group (ISG) -- in a live environment, the TIA said.

"NFV is a game changer for the global communications industry and is rapidly driving innovative new services for consumers and businesses," said TIA CEO Scott Belcher. "But in order to realize its full potential, companies must have access to sophisticated, neutral testing platforms. With the launch of the TIA lab, we are committed to giving solution providers, vendors and developers a place to test compatibility between multiple platforms."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.