At TM Forum Live! Asia (December 7-8, Singapore), Frank Massoudian, Huawei Principal Architect, will take part in a panel on scaling virtualization. He gives an introduction to the topic here.
While network functions virtualization (NFV) promises great benefits such as scalability and flexibility, it also presents challenges. One of the key challenges is that products and services are offered by multiple organizations across the ‘value fabric’:
“A value fabric is a mesh of interwoven, cooperating organizations and individuals. Value chains tend to be sequential, with well-defined roles for each party in the chain. Value fabrics, on the other hand, are not sequential and often involve multiple collaborating parties who play a variety of roles”. TM Forum’s free ebook, NFV: Can It Be Managed?.
How do we ensure that requirements are communicated and understood properly among members of the value fabric? Which organization is the overall (that is, solution) integrator and when does this integration take place? How is performance measured across the various components to understand end-users’ experience (service level agreements – SLAs)?
In addition, to achieve true business agility, the organizational boundaries between service providers and suppliers – which force sequential development and deployment activities, leading to higher cost and lengthier time to market – must give way to a more seamless delivery model.
The mission of Joint Agile Delivery (JAD) is to address these challenges – see Figure 1.
Motivation and context
JAD strives to address the challenges of NFV by extending the concepts of DevOps, such as joint requirements planning, continuous integration and continuous delivery, to solutions coming from multiple sources (suppliers, service provider and partners). By capitalizing on synergies among the suppliers and the service provider, JAD improves quality while reducing cost and time to market.
First the term joint in JAD refers to the concept of having an extended cross-organizational team which includes development (software and engineering), quality assurance, technology operations and the service owner (within the service provider’s organization). As an integral member of the team, the service owner’s role is critical in:
- requirements management
- acceptance test-case selection and execution
- real-time feedback to the JAD team
- deployment readiness decision.
The use of the term agile highlights JAD’s full embrace of the spirit of agile and DevOps in these extended “Dev+Ops+Service Owner teams. Integrated (cross-functional) project team have complete autonomy and responsibility for all aspects of product development and deployment. Consistent with the Agile Manifesto, JAD endorses the following practices:
- open culture with free information flow and cross-functional collaboration;
- feedback to learn and adapt; and
- efficient access to scarce ‘production-like’ environment.
JAD also provides for a collaboration platform with repositories for all development artifacts including requirements, test cases, problem reports, etc. This platform is fully accessible by all members of the value fabric.
What sets JAD apart?
The service owner plays a key role in JAD, which is designed to meet the true needs of this end customer as identified directly, not by interpretation or understanding. To ensure that ongoing development meets these requirements, frequent feedback is sought from the service owner as development progresses. This real-time feedback is accomplished through participation in agile sprint demos. The service owner is also involved in selecting and participating in the execution of ‘acceptance testcases’, which demonstrate the needed functionality.
Towards the same goal, joint testing is focused on the solution, regardless of the origin of development. In essence, JAD extends the practices of continuous integration and continuous delivery to the solution. For communications service providers, deployment is also a key concern since they are held to extremely high availability figures. JAD therefore strives to deploy the solution with minimal end customer impact; in fact, Incremental functionality is delivered with no downtime.
The scale of this endeavor requires the use of data. Utilizing an evidence-based system, which uses data from automated tracking of the extended JAD team, the process produces predictable quality at managed (and monitored) cost levels. The same system collects key metrics from the field to enable efficient support.
Through JAD, suppliers engage service providers in the end-to-end development and delivery process with activities such as joint requirement analysis, joint test design and verification, test case sharing, and using a shared environment. This reduces duplicate verification, which greatly shortens the delivery period from requirements to customer acceptance. The result is a significantly reduced time to market and lower CapEx and OpEx while improving quality and reliability. Of course, the collection of these benefits to service providers and suppliers also lead to a superior end user experience.