When the digital world intervened Communication Service Providers network, the promise to scale up the operations increased. Using Network Function Virtualisation (NFV), the transformation has been phenomenal. The abundant growth of NFVs and software-defined networking markets are expected to reach almost $158 billion by 2021.

A recent Technology Business Research report claims that the 116% compound annual growth rate is supposed to be supported by the redistribution of legacy infrastructure capital expenditures. Having a firm hold on the CSP network, the penetration of  NFV is exponential primarily due to the use of one critical element - Virtual Network Functions (VNFs).

VNFs are virtualized task that carry out the functions performed by proprietary and dedicated hardware. As VNFs presence increased, the need for individual network functions using specialized hardware devices decreased. The slow transformation which the industry witnessed in the early years has grown at a rapid pace and now most CSPs use VNF software instead of commodity hardware. Since the software is exceptionally customisable, VNFs provide both service providers and businesses with a plethora of functions including DNS service, firewalls, VMs, and NAT. Some of the considerable reasons why CSPs find the use of VNF based NFV compatible and beneficial include

  • The versatility of the software
  • Increase network scalability and agility
  • Reduced power consumption and physical space
  • Cost effective through minimal operational and capital expenditure 

The integration of VNFs is done through a process commonly known as service chaining. Although the growth of VNF has led to the birth of small-scale vendors to offer the software, each vendor must mandatorily test against multiple Virtualised Infrastructure Manager (VIMs) and service orchestrators. The varied choice of VNFs has made the process of on-boarding for CSPs difficult due to the lack of a unified system or framework to support the various versions present in the market.

As an initiative to address this problem, Incedo’s VNF Validation Framework provides a software platform to automate VNF validation with an objective of reducing overall time taken to certify a new VNF. On a high level, Incedo’s VNF Validation framework has taken the following three significant aspects of VNF validation into account

1. Generic Validation

Generic Validation includes a set of tests that apply to all VNFs irrespective of their functions in the CSPs network.  To carry out these tests, Incedo’s VNF framework supports Open Source testing tools including NMAP by default offering flexibility to integrate any other preferred tool(s).

2. VNF Specific Functional Validation

This support offering by Incedo’s framework allows individual VNFs to test their specific tools within the structure. The distinguished offering by the architecture supports integrating VNF specific test tools.

3. VNF validation in a specific Orchestration environment

For VNF validation exclusive to a particular environment of orchestration, the framework supports OpenStack & Tacker orchestrator by default. However, the framework also gives the flexibility of integrating other orchestration systems at the discreet of the CSPs.

Incedo’s VNF Validation framework aims to simplify the on-boarding process of VNFs with its ability to adapt to any VNF vendors in the market. This is primarily due to the architecture of the framework that comprises of three major software components namely

1. VNF Validation Portal UI

VNF Validation Portal UI furnishes user interface for importing VNFs to trigger Validation Tests. The portal also allows the user to view the current status of ongoing VNF Validation, and view Validation Test Reports. These VNF Validation Test Results are then consolidated in a centralized database system to allow the user to have complete and holistic access to the reports under a single view.

2. VNF Validation Server (REST Service Layer)

Incedo’s VNF Validation Service implements the REST interface to support multiple functionalities. By default, validation server launches the VM(s) in OpenStack using Tacker Orchestration system. However, the system is built such a way that any other orchestrator can be easily integrated depending on the CSP. Incedo server is designed to ensure optimum usage of underlying VIM resources while supporting queuing of Validation Requests for uninterrupted processing.

3. VNF Validation Test Bed

The flexible architecture allows CSPs to expedite the new VNF certification process. As Incedo focuses on customise framework, the VNF Validation Framework can be enhanced to support user-specific validation cases, test tools, and many other features to assist individual CSP requirements.