Platform overview


Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is transforming the networking industry via software-defined infrastructures and open source is the proven method for quickly developing software for commercial products and services that can move markets. Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) facilitates the development and evolution of NFV components across various open source ecosystems. Through system level integration, deployment and testing, OPNFV constructs a reference NFV platform to accelerate the transformation of enterprise and service provider networks. As an open source project, OPNFV is uniquely positioned to bring together the work of standards bodies, open source communities, service providers and commercial suppliers to deliver a de facto NFV platform for the industry.

By integrating components from upstream projects, the community is able to conduct performance and use case-based testing on a variety of solutions to ensure the platform’s suitability for NFV use cases. OPNFV also works upstream with other open source communities to bring contributions and learnings from its work directly to those communities in the form of blueprints, patches, bugs, and new code.

OPNFV focuses on building NFV Infrastructure (NFVI) and Virtualized Infrastructure Management (VIM) by integrating components from upstream projects such as OpenDaylight, OVN, OpenStack, Kubernetes, Ceph Storage, KVM, Open vSwitch, Linux, DPDK and OPNFV- is able to run on both Intel and ARM commercial and white-box hardware, support VM, Container and BareMetal workloads.

These capabilities, along with application programmable interfaces (APIs) to other NFV elements, form the basic infrastructure required for Virtualized Network Functions (VNF) and MANO components.

Concentrating on these components, OPNFV aims to enhance NFV services by increasing performance and power efficiency improving reliability, availability and serviceability, and delivering comprehensive platform instrumentation.

OPNFV Platform Architecture

The OPNFV project addresses a number of aspects in the development of a consistent virtualisation platform including common hardware requirements, software architecture, MANO and applications.

OPNFV Platform Overview Diagram

Overview infographic of the opnfv platform and projects.

To address these areas effectively, the OPNFV platform architecture can be decomposed into the following basic building blocks:

  • Hardware: Infrastructure working group, Pharos project and associated activities
  • Software Platform: Platform integration and deployment projects
  • Tooling and testing: Testing working group and test projects
  • Applications: All other areas and drive requirements for OPNFV

OPNFV Lab Infrastructure

The infrastructure working group oversees such topics as lab management, workflow, definitions, metrics and tools for OPNFV infrastructure.

Fundamental to the WG is the Pharos Specification which provides a set of defined lab infrastructures over a geographically and technically diverse federated global OPNFV lab.

Labs may instantiate bare-metal and virtual environments that are accessed remotely by the community and used for OPNFV platform and feature development, build, deploy and testing. No two labs are the same and the heterogeneity of the Pharos environment provides the ideal platform for establishing hardware and software abstractions providing well understood performance characteristics.

Community labs are hosted by OPNFV member companies on a voluntary basis. The Linux Foundation also hosts an OPNFV lab that provides centralized CI and other production resources which are linked to community labs.

The Lab-as-a-service (LaaS) offering provides developers to readily access NFV infrastructure on demand. Ongoing lab capabilities will include the ability to easily automate deployment and test of any OPNFV install scenario in any lab environment using a concept called “Dynamic CI”.

OPNFV Software Platform Architecture

The OPNFV software platform is comprised exclusively of open source implementations of platform component pieces. OPNFV is able to draw from the rich ecosystem of NFV related technologies available in open source communities, and then integrate, test, measure and improve these components in conjunction with our upstream communities.

Virtual Infrastructure Management

OPNFV derives its Virtual Infrastructure Management from OpenStack and Kubernetes. OpenStack provides a complete reference cloud management system and associated technologies. While the OpenStack community sustains a broad set of projects, not all technologies are relevant in the NFV domain, the OPNFV community consumes a sub-set of OpenStack projects and the usage and composition may vary depending on the installer and scenario. Additionally, OPNFV also uses Kubernetes, the popular Container Orchestration Engine. Kubernetes is intended to be a VIM for Cloud Native Network Functions (CNFs).

For details on the scenarios available in OPNFV and the specific composition of components refer to the OPNFV User Guide & Configuration Guide.

Operating Systems

OPNFV currently uses Linux on all target machines. The specific version of Linux used for any deployment is documented in the installation guide.

Networking Technologies

SDN Controllers

OPNFV, as an NFV focused project, has a significant investment on networking technologies and provides a broad variety of integrated open source reference solutions. The diversity of controllers able to be used in OPNFV is supported by a similarly diverse set of forwarding technologies.

There are many SDN controllers available today relevant to virtual environments where the OPNFV community supports and contributes to a number of these. The controllers being worked on by the community during this release of OPNFV include:

  • Neutron: an OpenStack project to provide “network connectivity as a service” between interface devices (e.g., vNICs) managed by other OpenStack services (e.g. Nova).
  • OpenDaylight: addresses multivendor, traditional and greenfield networks, establishing the industry’s de facto SDN platform and providing the foundation for networks of the future.
  • OVN: a distributed control-plane on top of the popular Open vSwitch (OVS) offers network virtualization services.

Data Plane

OPNFV extends Linux virtual networking capabilities by using virtual switching and routing components. The OPNFV community proactively engages with the following open source communities to address performance, scale and resiliency needs apparent in carrier networks.

  • OVS (Open vSwitch): a production quality, multilayer virtual switch designed to enable massive network automation through programmatic extension, while still supporting standard management interfaces and protocols.
  • (Fast data - Input/Output): a high performance alternative to Open vSwitch, the core engine of is a vector processing engine (VPP). VPP processes a number of packets in parallel instead of one at a time thus significantly improving packet throughput.
  • DPDK: a set of libraries that bypass the kernel and provide polling mechanisms, instead of interrupt based operations, to speed up packet processing. DPDK works with both OVS and

Deployment Architecture

A typical OPNFV deployment starts with three controller nodes running in a high availability configuration including control plane components from OpenStack, SDN controllers, etc. and a minimum of two compute nodes for deployment of workloads (VNFs). A detailed description of the hardware requirements required to support the 5 node configuration can be found in pharos specification: Pharos Project

In addition to the deployment on a highly available physical infrastructure, OPNFV can be deployed for development and lab purposes in a virtual environment. In this case each of the hosts is provided by a virtual machine and allows control and workload placement using nested virtualization.

The initial deployment is done using a staging server, referred to as the “jumphost”. This server-either physical or virtual-is first installed with the installation program that then installs OpenStack and other components on the controller nodes and compute nodes. See the OPNFV User Guide & Configuration Guide for more details.

The OPNFV Testing Ecosystem

The OPNFV community has set out to address the needs of virtualization in the carrier network and as such platform validation and measurements are a cornerstone to the iterative releases and objectives.

To simplify the complex task of feature, component and platform validation and characterization the testing community has established a fully automated method for addressing all key areas of platform validation. This required the integration of a variety of testing frameworks in our CI systems, real time and automated analysis of results, storage and publication of key facts for each run as shown in the following diagram.

Overview infographic of the OPNFV testing Ecosystem

Release Verification

The OPNFV community relies on its testing community to establish release criteria for each OPNFV release. With each release cycle the testing criteria become more stringent and better representative of our feature and resiliency requirements. Each release establishes a set of deployment scenarios to validate, the testing infrastructure and test suites need to accommodate these features and capabilities.

The release criteria as established by the testing teams include passing a set of test cases derived from the functional testing project ‘functest,’ a set of test cases derived from our platform system and performance test project ‘yardstick,’ and a selection of test cases for feature capabilities derived from other test projects such as bottlenecks, vsperf, cperf and storperf. The scenario needs to be able to be deployed, pass these tests, and be removed from the infrastructure iteratively in order to fulfill the release criteria.


Functest provides a functional testing framework incorporating a number of test suites and test cases that test and verify OPNFV platform functionality. The scope of Functest and relevant test cases can be found in the Functest User Guide

Functest provides both feature project and component test suite integration, leveraging OpenStack and SDN controllers testing frameworks to verify the key components of the OPNFV platform are running successfully.


Yardstick is a testing project for verifying the infrastructure compliance when running VNF applications. Yardstick benchmarks a number of characteristics and performance vectors on the infrastructure making it a valuable pre-deployment NFVI testing tools.

Yardstick provides a flexible testing framework for launching other OPNFV testing projects.

There are two types of test cases in Yardstick:

  • Yardstick generic test cases and OPNFV feature test cases; including basic characteristics benchmarking in compute/storage/network area.
  • OPNFV feature test cases include basic telecom feature testing from OPNFV projects; for example nfv-kvm, sfc, ipv6, Parser, Availability and SDN VPN

With the addition of the Network Service Benchmarking (NSB) initiative, it is possible to use Yardstick NSB for benchmarking the performance of VNFs and Network Services.

System Evaluation and compliance testing

The OPNFV community is developing a set of test suites intended to evaluate a set of reference behaviors and capabilities for NFV systems developed externally from the OPNFV ecosystem to evaluate and measure their ability to provide the features and capabilities developed in the OPNFV ecosystem.

The Dovetail project provides a test framework and methodology able to be used on any NFV platform, including an agreed set of test cases establishing an evaluation criteria for exercising an OPNFV compatible system.

Additional Testing

Besides the test suites and cases for release verification, additional testing is performed to validate specific features or characteristics of the OPNFV platform. These testing framework and test cases may include some specific needs; such as extended measurements, additional testing stimuli, or tests simulating environmental disturbances or failures.

These additional testing activities provide a more complete evaluation of the OPNFV platform. Some of the projects focused on these testing areas include:


Bottlenecks provides a framework to find system limitations and bottlenecks, providing root cause isolation capabilities to facilitate system evaluation.


NFVbench is a lightweight end-to-end dataplane benchmarking framework project. It includes traffic generator(s) and measures a number of packet performance related metrics.


Storperf measures the performance of external block storage. The goal of this project is to provide a report based on SNIA’s (Storage Networking Industry Association) Performance Test Specification.


VSPERF provides an automated test-framework and comprehensive test suite for measuring data-plane performance of the NFVI including switching technology, physical and virtual network interfaces. The provided test cases with network topologies can be customized while also allowing individual versions of Operating System, vSwitch and hypervisor to be specified.