Optimizing NFV Cost, Performance & Power with the Arm Ecosystem

The industry equips operators and service providers with new technologies to support their transformational journey to NFV and the cloud. Workload diversity and unique requirements drive hardware and software innovation, and the ecosystem is collaborating in open source projects such as OPNFV, ODP, and OpenFastPath to accelerate development and adoption. The realization of the NFV vision, in parallel with the race to 5G network deployments, puts strict requirements on performance/watt, density, and scalability.

By Fredrik Ehrenstråle

Arm brings NFV to a new price and power point

In this landscape, Arm and its ecosystem brings NFV to a new price and power point, and Arm has collaborated with Enea on several initiatives to facilitate transformation and innovation. Enea developed the first Arm based NFVI software platform, and made both DPDK and ODP available to ISVs such that they can take advantage of Arm-based servers and other value-added services.

Enea also hosts the first Arm-based OPNFV Pharos Lab, for the benefit of the community. This allows them to verify their applications, optimize and confirm that operators will be able to achieve the performance they require using a cost-effective, energy-efficient, cloud-based architecture. Closely coupled hardware acceleration for IPsec and vSwitching will enable more cost and power efficient solutions.

Powerful solutions from Arm ecosystem initiatives

The Arm Infrastructure Developer Community (AIDC) and WorksonArm initiatives showcase the range of powerful solutions available in the Arm ecosystem. The most effective way of fostering innovation in the NFV space is to create strong communities where collaboration is encouraged and required. Two great examples are the Arm Infrastructure Developer Community (AIDC) and the WorksonArm initiatives. Both of them showcase the range of powerful solutions available in the Arm ecosystem, and gives developers, solution provides and other stakeholders great inspiration and insight.

The “NFV Pico Pod”, developed by Arm, Enea, Marvell, and PicoCluster, is a good example of how the ecosystem comes together, addressing new segments of the NFV market. The PicoPod is a complete 5-server OPNFV configuration running on small four core A72 SoCs with only 16G of memory on the board, yet capable of demonstrating key functionality of OPNFV as High Availability and multi-architecture support.

Clearing the obstacles to SDN/NFV adoption in next gen networks

The entire network needs to be virtualized for NFV to become the next gen network for 5G and IoT use cases. The software platforms for whole network virtualization is already here, but the challenge lies in making orchestrators carrier-grade, and integrating awareness of the HW capabilities so that the right VNF can be placed on the right HW platform.

Lack of standardization is another challenge, especially in terms of VNF onboarding. Ideally, there should be a minimum of communities/standards driving onboarding/VNF descriptor formats, and all platforms should have to comply with them. Today there are still too many vendor specific communities, and that diversity is pushing operators to containers and IT style solutions, bypassing the telecom vendors because it is too hard to onboard traditional telco VNFs

The bottom line

The Arm ecosystem can deliver solutions to unlock the power of NFV by addressing requirements for cost, power and density. It is worth taking a closer look:

Click to visit AIDC

Click to visit WorksonArm


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