Proposed Network Function Virtualization Research Group
charter-irtf-nfvrg-00-00

The information below is for an older proposed charter
Document Proposed charter Network Function Virtualization RG (nfvrg) Snapshot
Title Proposed Network Function Virtualization Research Group
Last updated 2015-01-20
State Not currently under review
RG State Concluded
Send notices to (None)

Charter
charter-irtf-nfvrg-00-00

Charter

Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is a key emerging area for
network operators, hardware and software vendors, cloud service
providers, and in general network practitioners and researchers. This
area requires exploring new directions and working collaboratively on
how to create network services that utilize a virtualized
infrastructure. Network functions that are traditionally implemented
in dedicated hardware appliances will need to be decomposed and
executed in software elements running on cloud-based infrastructures.
One essential goal of this new approach is to reduce capital and
operating expenditures for future deployments for networks and
associated services. Another important goal is for the network
operators to be able to offer value added cloud services to their
customers. Finally, new business models will open for the provision of
network services.

The technologies enabling the virtualization of network functions
(NFs) are currently in an early stage, and they need researchers to
develop new architectures, systems, and software, and to explore
trade-offs and possibilities for leveraging virtualized infrastructure
to provide support for network functions. The Network Function
Virtualization Research Group (NFVRG) will bring together researchers
and grow the community around the world in both academia and industry
to explore this new research area. Beyond the direct activity through
the IRTF collaboration tools it will organize research group meetings
and workshops at premier conferences (such as IEEE ICC, IEEE GLOBECOM)
and inviting special issues in well-known publications.

The NFVRG will focus on research problems associated with NFV-related
topics and on bringing a research community together that can jointly
address them, concentrating on problems that relate not just to
networking but also to computing and storage aspects in such
environments. It is hoped that the outcome of the research will
benefit research efforts in other groups within the IRTF (and
especially the SDNRG) and standardization activities of IETF WGs (like
the ones going in SFC). Specific results can also spawn activities via
IRTF & IETF BoF meetings and/or provide useful input to other related
efforts in the ETSI NFV ISG or other standards bodies.

Areas of Interest

* New network architectures based on virtualized network functions
  (VNFs), including NF building from virtualized components

* NFV challenges in various cloud architectures (e.g., VNF intra- and
  inter-cloud mobility)

* Network and service function chaining: architecture and
  implementation (e.g., automation of VNF chain building, chaining of
  VNFs and non-virtual NFs)

* Autonomous orchestration and optimization

* Requirements and mechanisms to ensure reliable virtual network
  functions and services, in particular in what relates to failure
  characterization and representation

* New operational models associated with NFV

* Infrastructure and NF description and programming (languages, APIs,
  frameworks for combined processing, network and storage programming,
  policy languages, etc.)

* Coexistence with non-virtualized infrastructure and services

* Virtualized network economics and business modeling

* Security, trust and service verification

* Performance modeling

* Real-time big data analytics and data-centric management of
  virtualized infrastructure

* New application domains enabled by virtualized infrastructure and
  services, including use cases across heterogeneous infrastructures
  (wired, optical, cellular, satellite)

* End to end and system-wide optimization of compute, storage, network
  and energy efficiency

* Exploration of infrastructure and service abstractions enabled by
  virtualization

* Real-time and novel monitoring techniques (for performance
  guarantees, error and anomaly detection, smarter auto-scaling and
  optimization in general, etc.)

The group will report progress through its wiki and presentations at
IETF and IRTF meetings. Relevant information and research developed by
the research group will be submitted for publication as Experimental
or Informational RFCs.

Near-Term Work Items

The group shall focus on a concrete list of near-term work items. For
each of the items mentioned below, the goal is to explore system
architecture, optimization, and open interfaces across components,
through experimental results, simulations, and/or real-world
implementations.

1. Policy-Based Resource Management

   NFV Point of Presence (PoP) will be likely constrained in compute and
   storage capacity. Since practically all NFV PoPs are foreseen to be
   distributed, inter-datacenter network capacity is also a constraint.
   Additionally, energy is also a constraint, both as a general concern
   for NFV operators, and in particular for specific-purpose NFV PoPs
   such as those in mobile base stations. This work item will focus on
   optimized resource management and workload distribution based on
   policy.

2. Analytics for Visibility and Orchestration

   Network functions should be supportable on general purpose commodity
   hardware. Real-time monitoring and analytics providing insight into
   various components such as compute (e.g., dynamic CPU utilization),
   storage (e.g., dynamic capacity usage), network (e.g., dynamic
   bandwidth utilization), energy (e.g., dynamic power consumption) are
   key to not only providing visibility into the NFV infrastructure but
   also optimizing resource usage for the purposes of orchestration. This
   work item will contemplate techniques for the applicability of real-
   time analytics.

3. Virtual Network Function (VNF) Performance Modeling to Facilitate
   Transition to NFV

   When migrating from hardware network appliances, which are typically
   custom and monolithic, to virtualized software implementations running
   on commodity hardware a challenge which is often faced is the need for
   an equivalence model, especially in terms of performance. The work
   item will consider this modeling.

4. Service Verification with Regards to Security and Resiliency

   Reliability and security issues and relevant solutions related to the
   nature of VNFs are the objectives of this work item.   

   NFV configuration is expected to be dynamic especially in the edge NFV
   PoP where capacity is limited; a good example is the handling of viral
   events such as mobile gaming application. While autonomic networking
   techniques could be used to automate the configuration process
   including modular updates, one needs to take into account that
   incomplete and/or inconsistent configuration may lead to security and
   reliability issues.   

   Accidental failures or intentional events such as distributed denial
   of service (DDoS) attacks are “familiar” threats that could compromise
   heavily the system, due to the dependency of NFV on a distributed
   infrastructure. Thus the use of VNFs may well introduce additional
   challenges to ensure the support of carrier grade reliability. In the
   event of network and/or service degradation or failure, there must be
   suitable coordination, fail-over, and recovery. These reliable NFV
   mechanisms will also need tools and mechanisms to deploy and manage
   capability, and close coordination with NFV resource management and
   performance analytics is also expected. Elasticity of VNFs entails
   dynamic scale up/down/out/in with awareness of the resiliency
   considerations, a new scope as compared to the monolithic
   implementation approach.   

   Furthermore, the envisaged deployment of arbitrary third-party VNF
   applications on the network infrastructure of service providers raises
   significant security concerns and poses challenges for VNF
   verification in terms of functionality, security and stability under
   well-defined procedures.