All your virtual network functions belong to the cloud – if the CNCF has its way

Forklift and container, image via Shutterstock
Forklift and container, image via Shutterstock


The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), fosterer of projects like container orchestrator Kubernetes, used the just started Mobile World Congress 2019 to introduce the Cloud native Network Function Testbed to the world.

It was developed in partnership with LF Networking, a project of the CNCF’s parent organisation the Linux Foundation, and provides “reference code and test comparisons for running the same networking code packaged as containers (Cloud native Network Functions or CNFs) on Kubernetes and as virtual machines (Virtual Network Functions or VNFs) on OpenStack”.

Though still at prototype stage, the CNF Testbed is meant to give system developers a way of comparing virtual network functions to their cloud-native equivalent and help them re-use software with minimal changes. Since the CNCF views cloud-native functions as superior in terms of cost, resilience, and development velocity, the new project aims at facilitating the transition to this approach by presenting reproducible test cases for evaluation purposes.

Other goals include providing Helm Charts for CNFs, ways of building software in composable parts, and support for automated deployment from bare-metal up. Right now, however, there are only four test cases focussing on infrastructure provisioning for service providers but apparently more will be added “incrementally”.

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The release is in line with the foundation’s goal to push the acceptance of the cloud-native technologies it cultivates through a multi-step process, chaperoning open source software from sandbox to graduated status. Compared with other popular CNCF offerings, the CNF Testbed isn’t a hosted project as the CNCF points out in the repository, merely “an initiative” for testing.

Under the hood CNF Testbed makes use of several virtual network functions that are part of LF Networking’s ONAP, a network automation platform, which should strengthen the cooperation between the Linux Foundation’s different sub-groups nicely.

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