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The importance of Data Model standardization for NS and VNF lifecycle management



Have you ever heard that Virtual Network Function (VNF) is composed by one or more Virtual Machines to deliver a network function? If you have heard something related to this, it is mean you are connected to the NFV world.

VNF is composed of one or more Virtual Machines and a tool is required to orchestrate the Virtual Machines and VNFs. For example, for a VNF composed of three VMs, the tool will need to know the sequence to initiate the VMs, the connectivity between them, the resources required by each one and so on.

Then, the tool responsible for instantiation, scaling, updating and terminating a VNF is called VNF Manager. Besides VFNM there is a tool called NFV Orchestrator responsible for Network Services (group of VNFs) which its main functions are Network Services onboarding, VNF Forwarding Graphs deployment that in other words, the way to create a path between the VNFs, and other functions.

VNF Manager needs to know the requirements to be used to instantiate, update/upgrade and terminate a VNF, a deployment and operational behavior of each VNF, so all of them are captured in a template called Virtualized Network Function Descriptor (VNFD) to be used to create instances of the VNF it represents and to manage the lifecycle of those instances. The VNFDs (templates) are stored during the VNF on-boarding process in a VNF catalogue, for future use.

During the lifecycle of a VNF, the VNF Management functions may monitor KPIs of a VNF, if such KPIs were captured in the deployment template and management functions may use this information for scaling operations, such as changing the configuration of the virtualized resources (scale up, e.g. add CPU, or scale down, e.g. remove CPU); adding new virtualized resources (scale out, e.g. add a new VM); shutting down and removing VM instances (scale in), or releasing some virtualized resources (scale down).

Also, NFVO needs to know the requirements to be used to instantiate, update/upgrade and terminate a NS, and the deployment and operational behavior requirements of each NS to be captured in a deployment template. The deployment template fully describes the attributes and requirements necessary to realize such a Network Service. The template is called NSD (NS Descriptor) and are stored during the Network Service on-boarding process in a NS catalogue, for future selection for instantiation.

During the Network Service lifecycle, the Network Service Orchestration functions may monitor KPIs of a Network Service if such requirements were captured in the deployment template. This information may be made available to other tools and functions.

All requirements used by NFV Orchestrator and VNF Manager are described in descriptor files using a specific data model. Consistency in data models that model the requirements is very important for a Network Service and/or VNF lifecycle management. If every NS and/or VNF has its own data model, a translation will be required by NFVO/VNFM, then timing for onboarding a new service will be higher than using a common data model increasing CAPEX and OPEX for NFV deployment.

Do you agree that data model standardization will help to accelerate NS and VNF lifecycle management? Please, do not hesitate to post your comments.

Please feel free to check our webpage regarding HPE solutions for NFV, including NFV Orchestrator and VNF Manager (

Want to learn more? Follow us on Twitter at @HPE_NFV & @HPE_CSP

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Juliano Forti
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About the Author


HPE Sr. Product Manager working in product definition and go-to-market strategies for NFV Orchestrator and VNF Manager. 16 years’ experience working as a Product Manager, Systems Engineer in Enterprise and Service Provider Networks, and with extensive market knowledge of data center, service provider and enterprise networking.