What Are CNFs?

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Over the last five years or so, the telecom industry has been transformed through the use of network functions virtualization (NFV) and vrtual network functions (VNFs). At the same time, in the enterprise application space, cloud-native technologies, led by the Kubernetes container orchestration system, have transformed the way applications are built and delivered.Arpit Joshipura

At the Open Networking Summit Europe, the Linux Foundation announced its cloud-native network functions (CNF) effort that brings the world of Kubernetes together with the telecom world.

In a video interview, Arpit Joshipura, General Manager of Networking at The Linux Foundation, explains the promise and the potential of cloud-native network functions (CNFs) for networking.

“What if we take the best of the telecom world, which is full automation and lots of functions, then take the best of cloud native and marry them together?” Joshipura said. “We get the portability of containers, the simplicity of managing them and get the value of a automation. And that’s what we’re calling cloud-native network functions.”

Joshipura said that the CNF effort is being worked on by teams from the Linux Foundation’s Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), as well as the LF Networking group.

Container Networking Interface

At the core of Kubernetes’ networking capabilities is the Container Networking Interface (CNI), which is an abstraction that enables different networking constructs and topologies to be plugged in.

Joshipura said that CNF goes beyond what is enabled in CNI.

“There are concepts and constructs in networking that don’t exist in Kubernetes,” he said.

Things like ACL (access control list), IPv6 constructs and the OSI layer stack are among the items that are core to networking but are not part of the Kubernetes understanding of networking today, according to Joshipura. He added that projects like Istio, which is building a networking service mesh for Kubernetes, are helping to bridge the gap. Istio reached its 1.0 milestone on July 31, enabling service-to-service networking.

Watch the full video with Arpit Joshipura below:

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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