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Network and Service Management

Management and Orchestration Challenges in

Network Functions Virtualization
Rashid Mijumbi, Joan Serrat, Juan-Luis Gorricho, Steven Latré, Marinos Charalambides, and Diego Lopez

NFV continues to draw Abstract work capacity for more user traffic. Finally, NFV
may lead to better service agility by allowing
immense attention NFV continues to draw immense attention TSPs to deploy and/or support new network ser-
from researchers in from researchers in both industry and academia. vices faster and less expensively.
both industry and aca- By decoupling NFs from the physical equipment These expectations have made NFV a bur-
demia. By decoupling on which they run, NFV promises to reduce geoning research field. The most notable NFV
NFs from the physical CAPEX and OPEX, make networks more scal- activities are being led by the European Tele-
able and flexible, and lead to increased service communications Standards Institute (ETSI).
equipment on which agility. However, despite the unprecedented The main objective of the ETSI NFV group1 is
they run, NFV promises interest it has gained, there are still obstacles to develop standards for NFV as well as share
to reduce CAPEX and that must be overcome before NFV can advance experiences of its development and early imple-
OPEX, make networks to reality in industrial deployments, let alone mentation. To this end, they have defined the
more scalable and delivering on the anticipated gains. While doing NFV problem, some use cases, a reference archi-
so, important challenges associated with network tecture, and a management and orchestration
flexible, and lead to and function MANO need to be addressed. In (MANO) framework, among other items [3].
increased service agil- this article, we introduce NFV and give an over- However, while a lot of progress has been
ity. However, despite view of the MANO framework that has been made, there are still many technical challenges,
the unprecedented proposed by ETSI. We then present represen- which must be overcome before the gains antic-
interest it has gained, tative projects and vendor products that focus ipated from NFV can come to fruition. Among
on MANO, and discuss their features and rela- them, MANO challenges have drawn special
there are still obstacles tionship with the framework. Finally, we identify attention. The reason behind this interest is that
that must be over- open MANO challenges as well as opportunities MANO is a critical aspect in ensuring the cor-
come before NFV can for future research. rect operation of the NFV infrastructure (NFVI)
advance to reality in as well as virtual network functions (VNFs).
industrial deployments,
Introduction MANO provides the functionality required for
In recent years, telecommunication service pro- the provisioning of VNFs, and related opera-
let alone delivering on viders (TSPs) have experienced constant dwin- tions such as the configuration of VNFs and the
the anticipated gains. dling in revenue. This has been attributed, in infrastructure on which these functions run. It
part, to two main factors. On one hand, the includes the orchestration and life cycle man-
seemingly insatiable traffic demands of subscrib- agement of physical and/or virtual resources that
ers require physical network expansions, which support the VNFs [4]. Just like the decoupled
are achieved at increased capital expenditures NFs, NFV demands a shift from management
(CAPEX) and operating expenditures (OPEX) models that are device-driven to those that are
[1]. On the other hand, competition both among aware of the orchestration needs of NFs running
themselves and from over-the-top service pro- in a virtualized environment. We believe that for
viders means that TSPs cannot respond to the NFV to succeed, the main MANO challenges
increased costs with increased subscriber fees. should be addressed at the current specification
Network functions virtualization (NFV) [2] phase, rather than later when real large-scale
has been identified as a potential solution to deployments commence.
these problems. The main concept of NFV is In this article, we survey current efforts that
the decoupling of network functions (NFs) from address NFV MANO. In particular, in the next
capacity (the physical infrastructure on which section, we begin by summarizing the MANO
they run). Breaking the bond between NFs and framework that has been proposed by ETSI. We
hardware promises several advantages. First, then overview representative projects and vendor
there is a potential for significant reductions in products that focus on NFV MANO. We classify
OPEX through more efficient operations, since these projects and products in two ways. First, we
most maintenance and updates to NFs can be map their functionality to the functional blocks
performed remotely and at scale. In addition, of the ETSI MANO framework, and then we
the increased flexibility can lead to more efficient study their features based on four criteria:
utilization of resources and hence reductions in • Management approach (centralized, distrib-
CAPEX, since TSPs could use the existing net- uted, policy-based, self-managed)

Rashid Mijumbi is with Waterford Institute of Technology; Joan Serrat and Juan-Luis Gorricho are with Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya; Steven Latré is with
http://www.etsi.org/technolo- the University of Antwerp and iMinds; Marinos Charalambides is with University College London; Diego Lopez is with Telefonica I+D. Part of this work was done
gies-clusters/technologies/nfv while R. Mijumbi was still with Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.

98 0163-6804/16/$25.00 © 2016 IEEE IEEE Communications Magazine • January 2016

• Management functions supported (fault,
configuration, accounting, performance, and Network management systems NFV management and orchestration
security: FCAPS)
• Scope (functions, services, network) Operation system support, NFV orchestrator (NFVO)
business system support
• The integration of management with that
of software defined networking (SDN) and
cloud computing, both of which are compli-
Data repositories
mentary and/or enablers of NFV
VNF catalog
Finally, we identify open challenges and discuss Element management
VNF instances
opportunities for future research, before con- NS catalog
cluding the article. NFVI resources

ETSI MANO Framework



The ETSI MANO framework [4] is shown in Fig.



VNF manager (VNFM)
1. The functional blocks in the framework can be Virtual network functions
grouped into three main entities:
• NFV architectural layers
Virtual resources Virtualized infrastructure
• NFV management and orchestration manager (VIM)
Physical resources
• Network management systems NFV infrastructures
These entities, as well their constituent func-
tional blocks, are connected together using a set NFV architectural layers Reference points
of defined reference points.2 The NFV architec-
tural layers include the NFVI and VNFs. NFVI Figure 1. ETSI NFV MANO Framework.
is the combination of both hardware and soft-
ware resources that makes up the environment • The NS catalog is a set of predefined tem-
in which VNFs are deployed, while VNFs are plates, which define how services may be
implementations of NFs that are deployed on created and deployed, as well as the func-
those virtual resources. tions needed for the service and their con-
NFV Management and Orchestration • The VNF catalog is a set of templates that
The NFV MANO consists of three functional describe the deployment and operational
blocks: the virtual infractructure manager (VIM), characteristics of available VNFs.
NFV orchestrator (NFVO), and VNF manager • The NFVI resources repository holds infor-
(VNFM); and four data repositories: NS catalog, mation about available/allocated NFVI
VNF catalog, NFV instances, and NFVI resources. resources.
VIM: A VIM manages and controls NFVI • The NFV instances repository holds infor-
physical and virtual resources in a single domain. mation about all function and service
This implies that an NFV architecture may con- instances throughout their lifetimes.
tain more than one VIM, with each of them man-
aging or controlling NFVI resources from a given Network Management Systems
infrastructure provider. In principle, a VIM may NFV is not intended to require a drastic change
be specialized in handling a certain type of NFVI in the current mechanisms of network service
resource (e.g., compute-only or storage-only), or provisioning, and is aimed at a gradual transition
could manage multiple types of NFVI resources from network infrastructures based on physical
(e.g., nodes in the NFVI). nodes, easing the integration in a heterogeneous
VNFM: Each VNF instance is assumed environment. Therefore, network management
to have an associated VNFM. The VNFM is systems will continue to have a key role in NFV,
responsible for the management of the life cycle coordinated with the MANO entities by means
of VNFs. A VNFM may be assigned the man- of a clear separation of roles. MANO entities
agement of a single or multiple VNF instanc- will deal with those aspects related to the virtual-
es of the same or different types, including the ization mechanisms, while network management
possibility of a single VNFM for all active VNF functions are expected to take care of the fea-
instances for a certain domain. tures associated with the semantics of the specific
NFVO: The NFVO aims to combine more network services being provided by the compo-
than one function to create end-to-end ser- sition of VNFs and, potentially, physical nodes.
vices. To this end, the NFVO functionality can These network management systems include ele-
be divided into two broad categories: resource ment management (EM), operation system sup-
orchestration and service orchestration. The first port (OSS), and business system support (BSS).
is used to provide services that support accessing
NFVI resources in an abstracted manner inde- Projects Related to NFV MANO
pendent of any VIMs, as well as governance of 2 A reference point is a conceptual

VNF instances sharing resources of the NFVI.

point at the conjunction of two
Service orchestration deals with the creation CloudNFV3 is an open platform for implement- communicating functional entities.
of end-to-end services by composing different ing NFV based on cloud computing and SDN. A detailed description of all the
VNFs, and the topology management of the net- The CloudNFV architecture, illustrated in Fig. reference points in the ETSI NFV
work service instances. 2, is made up of three main elements: active vir- MANO framework can be found
Data Repositories: Data repositories are data- tualization, NFVO, and NFVM. Active virtual- in [4].
bases that keep different types of information in ization is a data model (based on TM Forum’s
the NFV MANO. Four types of repositories can SID [5]), which represents all aspects of ser- 3 www.cloudnfv.com/WhitePaper.

be considered: vices, functions, and resources. It is made up of pdf

IEEE Communications Magazine • January 2016 99


the aspects related to performance and porta-

NFV orchestrator NFV manager/OSS/BSS bility by applying Enhanced Platform Awareness
(EPA)5 principles. As shown in Fig. 3, the Open-
Optimized Service Infrastructure MANO architecture consists of three main com-
resource ordering management ponents: openmano, openvim, and a graphical
allocation management
user interface (GUI). In addition, there are two
command line interfaces (CLIs) used to interact
OpenStack with openmano and openvim.
openvim is a lightweight, NFV-specific VIM
implementation directly interfacing with the
compute and storage nodes in the NFVI, and
Active contract Active resource with an openflow controller in order to create
the infrastructural network topology, and enforce
Service, applications, Hardware, network the EPA principles mentioned above. It offers
VNFs, customer data status a REST-based northbound interface (open-
vim application programming interface: API)
Active virtualization to openmano, where enhanced cloud services
are offered including the life cycle management
Figure 2. CloudNFV Architecture. of images, flavors, instances, and networks. The
openvim API extends the OpenStack API to
accommodate EPA. OpenMANO has a north-
an active contract and active resource. Active bound interface (openmano API) based on
resource describes the status of all resources in REST, where MANO services are offered includ-
the infrastructure, while active contract includes ing the creation and deletion of VNF templates,
all service templates that define the characteris- VNF instances, network service templates, and
tics of all the available NFs. The orchestrator has network service instances.
policy rules, which, combined with service orders
and the status of available resources, determine OPNFV
the location of the functions that make up the OPNFV6 is an open source project founded and
service as well as connections between them. hosted by the Linux Foundation, and composed
After service deployment all resources report of TSPs and vendors. The objective is to establish
their status and traffic to the active resource. The a carrier-grade integrated open source reference
management processes running against active platform that may be used to validate multi-ven-
resources allow reflection of this status using man- dor interoperable NFV solutions. OPNFV plans
agement information bases (MIBs). The main to validate existing standard specifications, con-
difference between the ETSI NFV MANO and tribute improvements to relevant upstream open
CloudNFV is that unlike the former, the latter source projects, and develop necessary new func-
considers both management and orchestration as tionality within both OPNFV and upstream proj-
applications that can run off a unified data model. ects. In particular, it is focused on implementing
the NFV requirements provided by ETSI. To this
ExperiaSphere end, the first outcome of the project, referred
ExperiaSphere 4 is a MANO model for NFV, to as OPNFV Arno, was released in June 2015.
which is based on a combination of open source Arno is an initial build of the NFVI and VIM
tools. ExperiaSphere is founded on the concept components of the ETSI architecture.
of service models. These define how resources
expose service features and how the functions ZOOM
decompose to resources. The service models ZOOM 7 is a TM Forum project aimed at
are then used by a broker who selects one or enabling the deployment of services by automat-
more required service models to create a service ing the provisioning process through improved
instance. Once the service instance is created, OSS/BSS models. To achieve this, the project
its status is tracked throughout its life cycle. To regularly conducts a range of hands-on technolo-
achieve these objectives, ExperiaSphere is based gy demos each of which is developed from what
on two principles: structured intelligence and they call a catalyst project. Each catalyst proj-
derived operations. ect is sponsored by one or more network oper-
Structured intelligence uses an integration of ators and equipment and software vendors in
Universal Service Definition Language (USDL) a real-world demo. The project currently runs
and topology and orchestration specification for about nine catalysts with a focus on NFV aspects
cloud applications (TOSCA) [6] to define the including end-to-end automated management of
relationship between service elements, service hybrid networks, and demonstrating the impact
goals, and the infrastructure. Derived operations and value of dynamic security orchestration in an
4 http://www.experiasphere.com/ allow virtualized services and resources to be NFV environment.
managed as if they were physical. The manage-
5 https://01.org/sites/default/files/ ment functions operate on virtual elements of Pre-Standardization
the service, using variables defined per element
but derived from the state of real resources.
NFV MANO Products
6 https://www.opnfv.org/ CloudBand
OpenMANO Alcatel-Lucent’s CloudBand 8 is an NFV plat-
7 https://www.tmforum.org/ OpenMANO [7] is an open source project led by form comprising software and hardware stacks
collaboration/catalyst-program/ Telefonica, which is aimed at implementing the with two elements: a node and a management
current-catalysts/ ETSI NFV MANO framework, and addressing system. The CloudBand node provides the com-

100 IEEE Communications Magazine • January 2016

puting, storage, and networking hardware to host
cloud services, while the management system is OpenMANO CLI CLI
the MANO element of CloudBand. The man-
agement system aggregates distributed cloud
resources — the nodes — to provide a view of GUI openmano openvim
the entire NFVI as a single pool. It orchestrates, Openmano Openvim
automates, and optimizes VNFs across the ser- API API
vice provider’s network and data centers.

Ensemble Service Orchestrator

Overture’s Ensemble Service Orchestrator
(ESO) 9 is an NFV service and VNF life cycle
management and orchestration system. The sys-
tem coordinates and connects virtual resources Image storage Compute
mpute nodes OpenFlow switch OpenFlow controller
to physical network elements to create virtual-
ized services across multiple networking layers. Figure 3. Telefonica’s OpenMANO Architecture.
ESO supports the placement of VNFs in central-
ized as well as distributed data centers. It uses
the OpenStack cloud controller to manage the define service components and their relationships.
virtual computing environment, including vir- Planet Orchestrate can perform VNF man-
tual machines, virtual switches, and data center agement and orchestration functionality. The
switches. ESO is the key component of Over- NFV orchestration engine performs placement
ture’s Ensemble Open Service Architecture of VNFs and supports distributed NFVI to opti-
(OSA), which is a framework for service MANO. mize use of NFV resources. On the management
side, it supports the performance, availability,
OpenNFV and security demands of service provider applica-
HP’s OpenNFV10 is an NFV platform that lever- tions. Performance monitoring and alarm/event
ages open source technology to provide an open reporting is provided for the NFVI and virtual
end-to-end NFV and SDN infrastructure. Open- functions. Intrinsic knowledge of the topology
NFV is aligned toward providing solutions to each and the mapping between application and virtual
of the functional blocks defined in the ETSI NFV resources enables fault isolation and recovery as
reference architecture. With regard to MANO, well as high availability and resiliency.
OpenNFV includes three solutions; NFV director,
NFV manager, and Helion OpenStack. Summary: In Tables 1 and 2, we summarize
The NFV director is an NFVO that can be current activities toward NFV MANO. In
used to automate the deployment and monitor- Table 1, we map the functionalities of each
ing of a VNF ecosystem. Its aim is to ensure that project or product to the functional blocks of
each VNF can efficiently run on heterogeneous the ETSI NFV reference architecture. We can
hardware platforms and virtualization environ- observe that most projects or products choose
ments. VNF managers are responsible for the to rely on existing infrastructures and cloud
VNFs life cycle actions (e.g., by deciding to scale systems such as OpenStack for achieving the
up or down). The Helion OpenStack provides an NFVI and some form of data modeling and
open source cloud platform for running VNFs. storage to model and store VNFs. On the
MANO side, it can be noted that almost all
Open Network Strategy propose a solution for each of the three func-
Cisco’s Open Network Strategy (OPN)11 includes tional blocks, VIM, VNFM, and NFVO. The
a services orchestrator, a VNFM, and an SDN difference, however, is in the functionality.
controller, all of which are aimed at providing This can be observed in Table 2, which sum-
implementations for some of the functional marizes the management and orchestration
blocks of the ETSI MANO framework. The ser- functionality of each project/product based on
vices orchestrator is responsible for providing their description. For this purpose, we define
the overall life cycle management at the network four functionality categories. The management
service level. It uses model-based workflows that approach classifies them based on whether they 8 http://resources.alcatel-lucent.

enable the design of services based on predefined are centralized, distributed, policy-based, or com/asset/180265
service elements. The VNFM provides VNF automated (self-managed). The management
life cycle management, including the creation, function classifies them according to their sup- 9 http://www.overturenetworks.

provisioning, and monitoring of both Cisco and port for five of the basic management func- com/products/network-virtual-
third-party VNFs. Finally, the SDN controller tions — FCAPS. We define the management ization/
is responsible for connecting the virtualized ser- scope to include functions, services, and net-
vices to the service provider VPNs, the Internet, works. An approach is classified as a network 10 http://www8.hp.com/us/en/
or both. management one if it proposes functionality cloud/nfv-architecture.html
to manage network nodes and links, while ser-
Planet Orchestrate vice management applies to an approach that 11 http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/
Planet Orchestrate is part of Cyan’s Blue Plan- manages both functions and their connectivi- solutions/collateral/service-pro-
et Suite,12 which is an SDN and NFV platform ty or chaining to form a service. Finally, since vider/network-functions-virtualiza-
aimed at service orchestration, automation, SDN SDN and cloud computing are very important tion-nfv/white-paper-c11-732123.
control, and multi-vendor management capabil- technologies with regard to NFV, we also cate- html
ities. Its functionality is based on the require- gorize a project/product based on its ability to
ments of ETSI’s NFV MANO framework. It uses manage the interactions between SDN and/or 12http://www.cyaninc.com/prod-
TOSCA templates and information models to cloud and NFV. ucts/blue-planet-sdn-platform

IEEE Communications Magazine • January 2016 101

Traditional management
NFV architectural layers NFV MANO framework systems


Nuage, CloudBand CloudBand

VNF Modelling
CloudBand RedHat, CloudBand node Management Management 
CloudBand System System

Active Infrastructure Active

CloudNFV Active Contract OSS/BSS   OSS/BSS
eesource manager Contract

ESO Ensemble network

 ESO ESO Database
controller (ENC)

State-action State-action State-action

Experia- Resource Infrastructure Derived Derived
TOSCA, USDL service life cycle service life cycle service life cycle
Sphere somain manager operations operations
management management management

OpenMANO   Openvim OpenMANO

SDN Overly Services

Controller orchestrator

HP Helion Open- HP NFV

OpenNFV   HP NFV director 
Stack Carrier Grade director


Orchestrate  

ZOOM Shared Order, SLA, and billing

   catalog management systems

Table 1. Mapping of state-of-the-art projects and products to the ETSI MANO.

Challenges and Research Opportunities mathematical problem with such objectives as

load balancing and energy conservation. However,
Resource Management any such formulation should be able to take the
The servers used to host VNFs have a finite function chaining and/or precedence requirements
amount of memory, compute, and storage capac- into consideration to avoid network congestion.
ity. And since in practice these servers may be In addition, while most current NFV proofs
distributed across multiple domains, inter-do- of concept have been based on each VNF being
main link capacity will also be finite. Therefore, hosted by a dedicated VM, such an approach
to achieve the economies of scale expected from would not scale, especially for light functions
NFV, physical resources should be efficiently such as those that are part of customer premises
managed. Dynamism, scalability, and automation equipment. In this case, it would be more effi-
are important features of such resource man- cient to host multiple functions in a single VM
agement. In this context, we identify three main by use of docker containers. In this case, there
challenges as listed below. would be a need for scheduling approaches (e.g.,
[9]) for allocating the VM resources.
NFV PoP Locations: The first item is determin-
ing the locations of NFV points of presence Dynamic Resource Management: One of the sell-
(PoPs) [3]. In cases where the VNFs will be host- ing points of NFV is the ability to scale resourc-
ed in operator network nodes, it is necessary to es dynamically. There must be capabilities to
decide which subset of the nodes can be used increase or reduce the amount of resources allo-
as NFV PoPs. As this does not have to be done cated to specific functions or VMs. While current
often, it could be formulated as an optimization virtualization or cloud platforms allow for this,
problem with the objective of considering the many of them require a manual trigger by the
(latency to the) location of subscribers, and the user or resource owner. Therefore, automation
setup and maintenance costs of both servers as and self-allocation mechanisms that allow the
well as fronthaul links in the case of virtualized network to dynamically manage resources are
radio access networks. critical to the success of NFV.

Function Placement: In order to compose a ser- Distributed Management

vice, its constituent functions must be deployed. Current MANO approaches mainly focus on cen-
Decisions must be made on where functions tralized solutions, which pose scalability limita-
should be placed among the available PoPs. This tions, especially in scenarios where services span
problem is related to the virtual network embed- multiple administrative domains. This is mainly
ding (VNE) [8], and similar approaches may be attributed to the communication overhead and
applied. To this end, it may be formulated as a the delay incurred by the collection and analysis

102 IEEE Communications Magazine • January 2016

Cloud- Cloud- Experia- OpenMA- Open- Planet
Band NFV Sphere NO NFV Orchestrate

Centralized          
Management Distributed
Policy-based         

Self-managed       

Fault     

Accounting  
Management func-
tion (FCAPS)
Performance        

Security   

Functions     

Management scope Services        

Network   

SDN    
Managing related
Cloud       
Table 2. Characteristics of state-of-the-art projects and products.

of data associated with a large number of hetero- Security in the Cloud

geneous sources, which prevents these processes As SDN and NFV focus on the remote program-
from being executed frequently. As a result, the mability of network resources and their functions,
lag in learning the state of services and resources it opens up an important set of new potential
does not allow for online reconfiguration oper- threats and attacks that, if successful, could have
ations. To better react to demand dynamics but a far greater impact than in a non-NFV envi-
also to changing service requirements, efficient ronment. The ETSI NFV security group recent-
monitoring mechanisms need to be implement- ly drafted a document that defines the possible
ed, which feed distributed management entities security threats that NFV brings to the table. 13
the necessary information to perform dynamic The document is a statement regarding possi-
configuration changes. A communication proto- ble security problems but does not yet provide a
col to support lightweight coordination among recommendation to tackle them. Partly because
distributed decision makers, aiming to optimize of this, security is currently underdeveloped. Of
the usage of resources and the performance of the surveyed projects and solutions, only Cloud-
services, is another key research issue. Band proposes a comprehensive security solution
including anomaly prediction, detection, and iso-
Management of SDN lation, as well as providing security as a service.
While NFV and SDN are not dependent on each In the case of ZOOM and Planet Orchestrate,
other, they are closely related and complemen- security support is claimed based on a set of best
tary. Individually, NFV and SDN introduce high practices and integration with another product,
levels of dynamism and variability, which curtails respectively.
the visibility and control of human operators. Therefore, real security support is lacking
Therefore, traditional management approach- in all NFV products, despite the relevant new
es must be improved to accommodate each of threats. Important security challenges in this area
them. While some claim to be based on SDN, are detecting and blocking possible intrusion.
all the surveyed projects and solutions focus on Specifically, in multi-vendor environments, there
managing virtualized compute infrastructure/ are new security concerns of one TSP competitor
resources and functions. In the same way, from having access to another TSP’s data/configura-
the SDN perspective, the focus is on managing tion. In such a case, isolation between them is
networks in a programmatic way. We are not important.
aware of management solutions that combine
both, which is a key research area. In addition, Management across the Board
the management of SDN itself still has open Most solutions provide a way to perform configu-
questions [10] such as the number of control- ration. A limited number add performance man-
lers, their location, and avoiding conflicts in cases agement as well, and, as discussed above, only a
where more than one controller manages a given few provide — albeit limited — security manage-
forwarding element. In this case, ideas from pol- ment too. In most solutions, accounting manage- 13 NFV Security; Problem State-

icy-based management that have been proposed ment is completely overlooked. As such, there ment. Bob Briscoe (Rapporteur).
in most of the surveyed MANO solutions may be are currently no ways to track network utilization Draft Group Specification pub-
extended to SDN. to ensure that individual parties can be appro- lished, Oct 2014.

IEEE Communications Magazine • January 2016 103

priately billed for their use. This is very contra- different operators into a single service. This is
While remarkable prog-
dictory given the openness that NFV promises, because while ETSI proposes VNF and network
ress has been made especially in introducing a more multi-vendor service descriptors as templates for definition of
by ETSI in defining the world where different parties can coexist on the functions and services, it does not define a data
same device through virtualization. model to realize descriptors.
NFV MANO framework More generally, the management of the In this direction, the Alliance for Telecom-
and the constituent entire service life cycle is still missing. One of munications Industry Solutions (ATIS) 14 has
the unique selling points of NFV is that it prom- been focused on inter-carrier interoperability,
(intra-operator) inter-
ises to automate the entire process of setting up new service descriptions, and automated pro-
faces, there is still much and removing a service (chain), including con- cesses. While ATIS has recently proposed seven
to be done in terms figuration, performance optimization, response inter-provider use cases aimed at the same, these
to faults, and billing. With support for account- are generally generic descriptions. In particular,
of defining interfaces ing missing in all products, this promise has not they do not define any technical requirements
aimed at supporting yet been delivered. One of the reasons is that or solutions that could be used to enable the use
accounting is often heavily intertwined with leg- cases.
interoperability between
acy solutions. Providing support for all FCAPS
different vendors with functionality is therefore highly challenging, but
different functions. at the same time very important for NFV to real- In this article, we present an overview of the
ly bring a change to the telco world. NFV MANO framework recently proposed by
ETSI as well as representative projects attempt-
ProgrAMMAbIlIty And IntellIgence ing to realize the framework. Other research
Given that NFV envisions the deployment and projects as well as industry products focused on
maintenance of complex services across het- NFV MANO have been surveyed, identifying
erogeneous physical resources, a rich set of their functionality as well as their mapping to the
programmable interfaces should be developed, ETSI NFV MANO. Based on these, we identify
which will extend the current SDN functionality and discuss open challenges as well as opportuni-
beyond the scope of controlling simple connec- ties for research with regard to MANO in NFV.
tivity resources. Based on the abstraction of the We have observed that while ETSI complet-
flow, SDN solutions control the distribution of ed the first phase of work, the proposed MANO
traffic in the network according to forwarding framework still lacks details and standards on
rules. Additional abstractions that apply to com- the implementation for both the managers as
putation and storage resources are required so well as the interfaces. As a result, most of the
that network functions can be instantiated across pre-standardization solutions are in fact custom-
multiple vendor technologies, but also interfac- ized and based on proprietary solutions, which
es that will allow dynamic (re-)programming of will likely lead to interoperability issues. In
the configuration of those functions and control addition, while some of the identified challenges
(e.g., their placement). such as security are being considered in some
A related research challenge concerns the of the projects and/or industrial products, oth-
level of intelligence that can be achieved. This ers such as resource management — in partic-
is defined by the way in which services are pro- ular automated resource management — have
grammed (e.g., declaratively) and the degree to not received significant attention yet. It is our
which parameters can be configured. A MANO opinion that the success of NFV will depend,
system should be intelligent enough so that (re-) in part, on the availability of mechanisms that
configuration operations can be automated to a are able to autonomously manage network and
large extent, especially those that react to run- function resources.
time events. In this respect, intelligent mecha-
nisms that automatically transform high-level AcknowledgMent
policy to operational parameters and perform The authors are indebted to the Editor-in-Chief
configuration integrity checks are of paramount and the Series Editors for coordinating the
importance. review process, and to the anonymous review-
ers for their insightful comments and sugges-
InterFAcIng And InteroPerAbIlIty tions. This work has been supported in part by
One of the main goals of NFV is to break the FLAMINGO, a Network of Excellence project
bond between equipment vendors and TSPs, (318488) supported by the European Commis-
and the services they provide. One key require- sion under its Seventh Framework Programme,
ment for this is support for interoperability. the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre
While remarkable progress has been made by CONNECT (13/RC/2077), and project TEC2012-
ETSI in defining the NFV MANO framework 38574-C02-02 from Ministerio de Economia y
and the constituent (intra-operator) interfaces, Competitividad.
there is still much to be done in terms of defining
interfaces aimed at supporting interoperability reFerences
between different vendors with different func- [1] A. Checko et al., “Cloud Ran for Mobile Networks — A Technology Over-
tions. Interoperability problems can already be view,” IEEE Commun. Surveys & Tutorials, vol. 17, no. 1, 1st qtr. 2015,
observed in all the surveyed projects and solu- pp. 405–26.
[2] R. Mijumbi et al., “Network Function Virtualization: State-of -the-Art and
tions. For example, while they all are “based on Research Challenges,” IEEE Commun. Surveys & Tutorials, vol. PP, no.
the ETSI MANO framework,” each of the proj- 99, 2015, pp. 1–1.
ects and solutions surveyed uses a custom model [3] ETSI NFV ISG, “ETSI Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) Industry Stan-
and/or representation for functions and services. dards (ISG) Group Draft Specifications,” http://docbox.etsi.org/ ISG/NFV/
Open, Dec. 2014, accessed May 26, 2015.
14 https://www.atis.org/NFV/ This would mean that unless clear interfaces are [4] ETSI GS NFV-MAN 001, “Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Man-
index.asp defined, it is impossible to chain functions from agement and Orchestration,” http://www.etsi.org/, Dec. 2014, ETSI ISG.

104 IEEE Communications Magazine • January 2016

[5] K. Ogaki et al., “Integrating Heterogeneous It/Network Management Mod- JUAN-LUIS GORRICHO received a telecommunication engineering degree in
els Using Linked Data,” Proc. 2013 IFIP/IEEE Int’l. Symp. Integrated Net- 1993 and a Ph.D. degree in 1998, both from UPC. He is currently an asso- While ETSI completed
work Management, May 2013, pp. 768–71. ciate professor at UPC. His recent research interests are in applying artificial
[6] J. Cardoso et al., “Cloud Computing Automation: Integrating USDL and intelligence to ubiquitous computing and network management, with special the first phase of work,
TOSCA,” Proc. Advanced Info. Sys. Eng., ser. Lecture Notes in Computer interest in using smartphones to achieve recognition of user activities and
Science, C. Salinesi, M. Norrie, and s. Pastor, Eds.. Springer, 2013, vol. locations; and applying linear programming and reinforcement learning to the proposed MANO
7908, pp. 1–16. resource management in virtualized networks and functions. framework still lacks
[7] D. R. Lopez, “OpenMANO: The Dataplane Ready Open Source NFV
MANO Stack,” Proc. IETF 92 Meeting Proc., Dallas, TX, Mar. 2015. STEVEN LATRÉ received an MSc. degree and a Ph.D., both in computer science, details and standards
[8] N. Chowdhury et al., “Virtual Network Embedding with Coordinated Node from Ghent University, Belgium. He is currently an assistant professor at the
and Link Mapping,” Proc. IEEE INFOCOM 2009, April 2009, pp. 783–91. University of Antwerp, Belgium. His research activity focuses on autonomous on the implementation
[9] R. Mijumbi et al., “Design and Evaluation of Algorithms for Mapping and management and control of both networking and computing applications. He
Scheduling of Virtual Network Functions,” Proc. IEEE Conf. Network Soft- has been involved in several national and European research projects. His for both the managers
warization, Univ. College London, April 2015. recent work has focused on quality of experience optimization and manage- as well as the interfaces.
[10] S. Kuklinski and P. Chemouil, “Network Management Challenges in ment, distributed control, and network virtualization.
Software-Defined Networks,” IEICE Trans. Commun., Special Section on As a result, most of
Management for Flexible ICT Systems and Services, vol. E97-B, no. 99, MARINOS CHARALAMBIDES is a senior researcher at University College London.
Jan. 2014, pp. 2–9. He received a B.Eng. in electronic and electrical engineering, an M.Sc. in the pre-standardization
communications networks and software, and a Ph.D. in policy-based manage-
ment, all from the University of Surrey, United Kingdom, in 2001, 2002, and solutions are in fact cus-
2009, respectively. He has been working in a number of European and U.K. tomized and based on
RASHID MIJUMBI obtained a degree in electrical engineering from Makerere national projects since 2005, and his research interests include software-de-
University, Uganda, in 2009, and a Ph.D. in telecommunications engineering fined networking, policy-based management, in-network caching, and online proprietary solutions.
from the Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain, in 2014. He is traffic engineering.
currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Telecommunications Software and
Systems Group (TSSG) at Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland. His DIEGO LOPEZ received an M.S. from the University of Granada in 1985 and a
research interests are in management of networks and services. His current Ph.D. degree from the University of Seville in 2001. He joined Telefonica I+D
focus is on management of resources for virtualized networks and functions, in 2011 as a senior technology expert and is currently in charge of the Tech-
cloud computing, and software defined networks. nology Exploration activities within the GCTO Unit. He is focused on network
virtualization, infrastructural services, network management, new network
JOAN SERRAT is a full professor at UPC. He received a degree in telecommuni- architectures, and network security. He actively participates in the ETSI ISG on
cation engineering in 1977 and a Ph.D. in the same field in 1983, both from NFV (chairing its Technical Steering Committee), the ONF, and the IETF WGs
UPC. He has been involved in several collaborative projects with different connected to these activities.
European research groups, through both bilateral agreements and partici-
pation in European funded projects. His topics of interest are in the field of
autonomic networking and service and network management.

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