Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
APPARATUSES AND METHODS FOR DIRECT VIRTUALIZED NETWORK FUNCTION (VNF) MANAGEMENT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/177042
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Systems, methods, apparatuses, and computer program products for direct VNF management are provided. One method may include receiving, by a virtualized network function manager (VNFM), a request from a network manager (NM) to create a measurement job to collect virtualized network function (VNF) related virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements. The request may be received from the NM over a new interface established between the NM and the VNFM.

Inventors:
YAO, Yi, Zhi (No. 1 Wangjing East, Road 117-4-202,Lizexiyuan Area, Chaoyang District, Beijing 2, 100102, CN)
ANDRIANOV, Anatoly (908 Casey Court #2, Schaumburg, IL, 60173, US)
BODOG, Gyula (Telkes Utca 41, 1046 Budapest, Budapest, HU)
ERSUE, Mehmet (Ganghoferstr. 83, Munich, Munich, DE)
Application Number:
US2017/026409
Publication Date:
October 12, 2017
Filing Date:
April 06, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
NOKIA SOLUTIONS AND NETWORKS OY (Karaportti 3, Espoo, Espoo, FI)
YAO, Yi, Zhi (No. 1 Wangjing East, Road 117-4-202,Lizexiyuan Area, Chaoyang District, Beijing 2, 100102, CN)
ANDRIANOV, Anatoly (908 Casey Court #2, Schaumburg, IL, 60173, US)
BODOG, Gyula (Telkes Utca 41, 1046 Budapest, Budapest, HU)
ERSUE, Mehmet (Ganghoferstr. 83, Munich, Munich, DE)
International Classes:
G06F9/50; H04L12/24; H04L12/26
Domestic Patent References:
2015-06-11
2015-09-17
Foreign References:
US20130229914A12013-09-05
US20140317293A12014-10-23
US20140201374A12014-07-17
US20150358248A12015-12-10
Other References:
"ETSI GROUP SPECIFICATION. Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV); Management and Orchestration", ETSI GS NFV-MAN 001 V1.1, 1 December 2014 (2014-12-01), XP055366912, Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20170605]
MIJUMBI ET AL., MANAGEMENT AND ORCHESTRATION CHALLENGES IN NETWORK FUNCTION VIRTUALIZATION, 12 January 2016 (2016-01-12), XP011591856, Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20170608]
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GOLDHUSH, Douglas H. et al. (Squire Patton Boggs LLP, 8000 Towers Crescent Dr. 14th Floo, Vienna VA, 22182-6212, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WE CLAIM:

1. A method in a network virtual ization environment, the method comprising: establishing an interface between a virtualized network function manager (VNFM) and a network manager (NM).

2. The method according to claim 1, further comprising dividing the network manager into a network management part and an element management part.

3. The method according to claim 2, wherein the interface is established directly between the element management part of the network manager and the VNFM.

4. The method according to claim 2, further comprising connecting the network management part of the element manager to a network function virtualization orchestrator (NFVO) by an Os-ma-nfvo reference point.

5. The method according to any one of claims 1-4, wherein the interface is a Ve-Vnfm-em reference point, wherein the Ve-Vnfm-em reference point is configured to support virtualized network function (VNF) related virtualized resource (VR) performance management, virtualized network function (VNF) related virtualized resource (VR) fault management, and virtualized network function (VNF) life cycle management.

6. A system configured to:

establish an interface between a virtualized network function manager (VNFM) and a network manager (NM).

7. The system according to claim 6, further configured to divide the network manager into a network management part and an element management part.

8. The system according to claim 7, wherein the interface is established directly between the element management part of the network manager and the VNFM.

9. The system according to claim 7, wherein the system is further configured to connect the network management part of the element manager to a network function visualization orchestrator (NFVO) by an Os-ma-nfvo reference point.

10. The system according to any one of claims 6-9, wherein the interface is a Ve-Vnfm-em reference point, wherein the Ve-Vnfm-em reference point is configured to support virtualized network function (VNF) related virtualized resource (VR) performance management, virtualized network function (VNF) related virtualized resource (VR) fault management, and virtualized network function (VNF) life cycle management.

11. An apparatus, comprising:

at least one processor, and

at least one memory including computer program code,

the at least one memory and the computer program code are configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus at least to receive a request from a network manager to create a measurement job to collect virtualized network function (VNF) related virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements, wherein the request from the network manager is received over an interface established between the network manager and the apparatus.

12. The apparatus according to claim 1 1 , wherein the interface comprises a Ve-Vnfm-em reference point established between an element management part of the network manager and the apparatus,

13. The apparatus according to claims 1 1 or 12, wherein the at least one memory and the computer program code are further configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus at least to:

check the validity of the measurement job; and

acknowledge successful creation of the measurement job when it is valid or to reject the measurement job when it is invalid.

14. The apparatus according to claim 13, wherein, when the measurement job is successfully created, the at least one memory and the computer program code are further configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus at least to:

collect the virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements from a virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM) or a virtualized network function component (VNFC);

identify the virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements that are related to virtualized network function (VNF);

prepare a performance data file based on the identified virtualized network function (VNF) related virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements, and

notify the network manager of the performance data file when a reporting period starts.

15. The apparatus according to claims 1 1 or 12, wherein the at least one memory and the computer program code are further configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus at least to receive a request from the network manager to create a measurement threshold job for virtual ized network function (VNF) related virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements, wherein the request to create the measurement threshold job is received over the Ve-Vnfm-em reference point established between the element management part of the network manager and the apparatus.

16. The apparatus according to claim 15, wherem the at least one memory and the computer program code are further configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus at least to:

check the validity of the measurement threshold job; and

acknowledge successful creation of the measurement threshold job when it is valid or to reject the measurement threshold job when it is invalid.

17. The apparatus according to claim 16, wherein, when the measurement threshold job is successfully created, the at least one memory and the computer program code are further configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus at least to:

collect the virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements according to the created measurement threshold job from a virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM) or a virtualized network function component (VNFC);

identify the virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements which are related to virtualized network function (VNF), and

check whether the measurement threshold has been crossed.

18. The apparatus according to claim 17, wherein, when a threshold crossing notification is received, the at least one memory and the computer program code are further configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus at least to: identify whether the threshold crossing notification is virtualized network function (VNF) related; and

send a virtualized resource (VR) measurement threshold crossing notification to the network manager over the Ve-Vnfm-em reference point,

19. The apparatus according to claims 1 1 or 12, wherein the at least one memory and the computer program code are further configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus at least to:

receive a request from the network manager over the Ve-Vnfm-em reference point to instantiate a virtualized network function (VNF), where "system context B" is supported;

process the virtualized network function (VNF) instantiation procedure; and

acknowledge a result of the virtualized network function (VNF) instantiation procedure to the network manager over the Ve-Vnfm-em reference point.

20. The apparatus according to claims 11 or 12, wherein the at least one memory and the computer program code are further configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus at least to:

obtain fault related information from a virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM);

correlate the virtualized resource (VR) fault related information to virtualized network function (VNF) instance(s), and

report the correlated virtualized resource (VR) fault related information to the network manager over the Ve-Vnfm-em reference point.

21. A method, comprising:

receiving, by a virtualized network function manager, a request from a network manager to create a measurement job to collect virtualized network function (V F) related virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements,

wherein the receiving comprises receiving the request from the network manager over an interface established between the network manager and the virtualized network function manager.

22. The method according to claim 21, wherein the interface comprises a Ve-Vnfm-em reference point established between an element management part of the network manager and the virtualized network function manager.

23. The method according to claims 21 or 22, wherein the method further comprises:

checking the validity of the measurement job; and

acknowledging successful creation of the measurement job when it is valid or rejecting the measurement job when it is invalid,

24. The method according to claim 23, wherein, when the measurement job is successfully created, the method further comprises:

collecting the virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements from a virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM) or a virtualized network function component (VNFC);

identifying the virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements that are related to virtualized network function (VNF);

preparing a performance data file based on the identified virtualized network function (VNF) related virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements; and

notifying the network manager of the performance data file when a reporting period starts.

25. The method according to claims 21 or 22, further comprising:

receiving a request from the network manager to create a measurement threshold job for virtuahzed network function (VNF) related virtuahzed resource (VR) performance measurements,

wherein the receiving comprises receiving the request to create the measurement threshold job over the Ve-Vnfm-em reference point established between the element management part of the network manager and the virtuahzed network function manager.

26. The method according to claim 25, wherein the method further comprises: checking the validity of the measurement threshold job; and acknowledging successful creation of the measurement threshold job when it is valid or rejecting the measurement threshold job when it is invalid.

27. The method according to claim 26, wherein, when the measurement threshold job is successfully created, the method further comprises:

collecting the virtuahzed resource (VR) performance measurements according to the created measurement threshold job from a virtuahzed infrastructure manager (VIM) or a virtualizecl network function component (VNFC);

identifying the virtuahzed resource (VR) performance measurements which are related to virtuahzed network function (VNF); and

checking whether the measurement threshold has been crossed.

28. The method according to claim 27, wherein, when a threshold crossing notification is received, the method further comprises:

identifying whether the threshold crossing notification is virtuahzed network function (VNF) related; and sending a virtualized resource (V ) measurement threshold crossing notification to the network manager over the Ve-Vnfm-em reference point,

29. The method according to claims 21 or 22, wherein the method further comprises:

receiving a request from the network manager over the Ve-Vnfm-em reference point to instantiate a virtualized network function (VNF), where "system context B" is supported;

processing the virtualized network function (VNF) instantiation procedure; and

acknowledging a result of the virtualized network function (VNF) instantiation procedure to the network manager over the Ve-Vnfm-em reference point.

30. The method according to claims 21 or 22, wherein the method further comprises:

obtaining fault related information from a virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM);

correlating the virtualized resource (VR) fault related information to virtualized network function (VNF) instance(s), and

reporting the correlated virtualized resource (VR) fault related information to the network manager over the Ve-Vnfm-em reference point.

Description:
APPARATUSES AND METHODS FOR DIRECT VIRTUALIZED NETWORK FUNCTION (VNF) MANAGEMENT

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS:

[0001] This application claims priority from United States Provisional Application No. 62/318,846, filed on April 6, 2016. The entire contents of this earlier filed application are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND:

Field:

[0002] Some embodiments may generally relate to network function virtualization (NF V) and virtualized network function (VNF) management. In particular, certain embodiments may relate to approaches (including methods, apparatuses and computer program products) for direct VNF management by a network manager (NM).

Description of the Related Art:

[0003] Network functions virtualization (NFV) refers to a network architecture model that uses the technologies of information technology (IT) virtualization to virtual ize entire classes of network node functions into building blocks that may connect, or chain together, to create communication services.

[0004] A virtualized network function (VNF) may be designed to consolidate and deliver the networking components necessary to support a full virtualized environment. A VNF may be comprised of one or more virtual machines running different software and processes, on top of standard high-volume servers, switches and storage, or even cloud computing infrastructure, instead of having custom hardware appliances for each network function. One example of a VNF may be a virtual session border controller deployed to protect a network without the typical cost and complexity of obtaining and installing physical units. Other examples include virtualized load balancers, firewalls, intrusion detection devices and WAN accelerators.

[0005] In an NFV environment, a VNF may take on the responsibility of handling specific network functions that run on one or more virtualized containers on top of Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI) or hardware networking infrastructure, such as routers, switches, etc. Individual virtualized network functions (VNFs) can be combined to form a so called Network Service to offer a full-scale networking communication

[0006] Virtual network functions (VNFs) came about as service providers attempted to accelerate deployment of new network services in order to advance their revenue and expansion plans. Since hardware-based devices limited their ability to achieve these goals, they looked to IT virtualization technologies and found that virtualized network functions helped accelerate service innovation and provisioning. As a result, several providers came together to create the Network Functions Virtualization industry specification (ETSI ISG NFV group) under the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). ETSI ISG NFV has defined the basic requirements and architecture of network functions virtualization.

[0007] In NFV, virtualized network functions (VNF) are software implementations of network functions that can be deployed on a network functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVI). NFVI is the totality of all hardware and software components that build the environment where VNFs are deployed and can span several locations.

[0008] Each VNF may be managed by a VNF manager (VNFM). A VNFM may, for example, determine specific resources needed by a certain VNF when a VNF is instantiated (i.e., built) or altered. The so-called NFV orchestrator (NFVO) is responsible for network service management. A network service is a composition of network functions and defined by its functional and behavioral specification.

[0009] The NFVO is an entity that has the overview of the available, actually used and reserved resources in a multi-VNF environment and is also responsible for decisions about resource allocation and placement. The NFVO's tasks include lifecycle management (including instantiation, scale-out/in, performance measurements, event correlation, termination) of virtualized network services. Further, the actual responsibility on where VNFs or their components are placed in the NFVI is with the NFVO.

SUMMARY:

[0010] One embodiment is directed to a method in a network virtual izati on environment. The method may include establishing an interface between a virtualized network function manager (VNFM) and a network manager

[0011] Another embodiment is directed to a method that may include receiving, by a virtualized network function manager (VNFM), a request from a network manager (NM) to create a measurement job to collect virtualized network function (VNF) related virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements. The request may be received from the NM over a new interface established between the N and the VNFM.

[0012] Another embodiment is directed to an apparatus that may include at least one processor and at least one memory including computer program code. The at least one memory and the computer program code are configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus at least to receive a request from a network manager (NM) to create a measurement job to collect virtualized network function (VNF) related virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements. The request may be received from the NM over a new interface established between the NM and the apparatus.

[0013] Another embodiment is directed to an apparatus that may include receiving means for receiving a request from a network manager (NM) to create a measurement job to collect virtualized network function (VNF) related virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements. The request may be received from the NM over a new interface established between the NM and the apparatus.

[0014] Another embodiment may be directed to a system that is configured to establish an interface between a virtualized network function manager (VNFM) and a network manager (NM).

[0015] Another embodiment may be directed to a computer program, embodied on a non-transitory computer readable medium. The computer program is configured to control a processor to perform a process that includes establishing an interface between a virtualized network function manager (VNFM) and a network manager (NM).

[0016] Another embodiment may be directed to a computer program, embodied on a non-transitory computer readable medium. The computer program is configured to control a processor to perform a process that includes receiving, by a virtualized network function manager (VNFM), a request from a network manager (NM) to create a measurement job to collect virtualized network function (VNF) related virtualized resource (VR) performance measurements. The request may be received from the NM over a new interface established between the NM and the VNFM.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS:

[0017] For proper understanding of the invention, reference should be made to the accompanying drawings, wherein: [0018] Fig. 1 illustrates a block diagram of a system depicting an example of a NFV management and organization (MANO) architecture framework with reference points,

[0019] Fig. 2 illustrates a block diagram showing the mapping of 3GPP entities to the NFV management architecture framework;

[0020] Fig. 3 illustrates a block diagram of a system depicting a new mapping, according to an embodiment;

[0021] Fig. 4a illustrates a block diagram of an apparatus, according to one embodiment;

[0022] Fig. 4b illustrates a block diagram of an apparatus, according to another embodiment;

[0023] Fig. 5 illustrates a flow diagram of a method, according to one embodiment;

[0024] Fig. 6a illustrates a flow diagram of a method, according to another embodiment;

[0025] Fig. 6b illustrates a flow diagram of a method, according to another embodiment,

[0026] Fig, 6c illustrates a flow diagram of a method, according to another embodiment, and

[0027] Fig, 6d illustrates a flow diagram of a method, according to another embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION:

[0028] It will be readily understood that the components of the invention, as generally described and illustrated in the figures herein, may be arranged and designed in a wide variety of different configurations. Thus, the following detailed description of embodiments of systems, methods, apparatuses, and computer program products for direct VNF management, for example by a network manager (NM) in system context B, is not intended to limit the scope of the invention, but is merely representative of some selected embodiments of the in vention.

[0029] The features, structures, or characteristics of the in vention described throughout this specification may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments. For example, the usage of the phrases "certain embodiments," "some embodiments," or other similar language, throughout this specification refers to the fact that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment may be included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, appearances of the phrases "in certain embodiments," "in some embodiments," "in other embodiments," or other similar language, throughout this specification do not necessarily all refer to the same group of embodiments, and the described features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments.

[0030] Additionally, if desired, the different functions discussed below may be performed in a different order and/or concurrently with each other. Furthermore, if desired, one or more of the described functions may be optional or may be combined. As such, the following description should be considered as merely illustrative of the principles, teachings and embodiments of this invention, and not in limitation thereof.

[0031] Fig. 1 illustrates a block diagram of a system 100 depicting an example of a NFV management and organization (MANO) architecture framework with reference points. The system 100 may include an operations support system (OSS) 101 which comprises one or more systems used by network providers to operate their systems. Further, in the architecture framework system 100 of Fig. 1 , OSS/BSS 101 and NFVO 102 are designed to manage the network service, while element manager (EM) 106 and VNFM 103 are designed to manage VNF. [0032] In a NFV environment, Network Function Virtualization infrastructure (NT VI) 105 holds the hardware resources needed to run a VNF, while a VNF is designed to provide services. As an example, NFVO 102 may be responsible for on-boarding of new network services (NSs) and VNF packages, NS lifecycle management, global resource management, validation and authorization of NFVI resource requests. VNFM 103 may be responsible for overseeing the lifecycle management of VNF instances. Virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM) 104 may control and manage the NFVI compute, storage, and network resources.

[0033] The virtualization aspects of a VNF are managed by MANO (NFVO 102, VNFM 103, and VIM 104), while the application of the VNF is managed by the element manager (EMVnetwork manager (NM) 106,

[0034] Fig. 2 illustrates a block diagram showing the mapping of 3 GPP entities to the NFV management architecture framework, as provided in 3 GPP technical report (TR) 32.842.

[0035] Based on 3 GPP draft technical specification (TS) 32.500 (section 5.1.4) and draft TS 32.520 (section 6.4.1), 3 GPP Network Manager (NM) needs to obtain Virtualized Resource (VR) performance management (PM) data related to VNF: however, based on the current 3 GPP architecture mapping, the only way to support this requirement is via the NM-EM and EM- VNFM interfaces. However, this solution creates additional work for the EM, especially in the case where the EM does not need the same VR PM data. And, passing the PM data (and/or the related messages/notifications) over two interfaces (NM-EM and EM- VNFM) will increase the failure rate and delay.

[0036] Further, based on 3 GPP draft TS 32.500 (section 5.4.4) and draft TS 32.525 (section 6.4.1 , 1 ), 3 GPP management system (NM and EM) needs to be able to initiate the VNF instantiation. However, 3GPP network management architecture also supports "system context B" where the EM is inside of the NE (VNF). In this context, the EM does not exist before the VNF is instantiated. So the VNF Life Cycle Management (LCM), at least with respect to the VNF instantiation, for "system context B" cannot be performed by the NM-EM and EM- VNFM approach discussed above.

[0037] In view of the problems outlined above, embodiments of the invention include adding and/or establishing a new mapping of a Ve-Vnfm-em reference point that is exposed by the VNFM directly to the NM, in order to support VNF level management. Specifically, in one embodiment, the consumer of the newly added mapping of Ve-Vnfm-em reference point is the "element management part" within the NM.

[0038] Fig. 3 illustrates a block diagram depicting the new mapping, according to embodiments of the invention. As illustrated in Fig. 3, in one embodiment, a new interface or reference point, Ve-Vnfm-em 150, is setup directly between the VNFM 103 and the element management part 1 14 of NM 110. In addition to the element management part 1 14, the NM 1 10 may also include a separate network management part 1 12. The establishment of the new interface/reference point, Ve-Vnfm-em 150, results in reducing the load on the EM 106 and also provides support for the "system context B" approach where the EM may not yet exist. Also, by avoiding passing data over two separate interfaces, the failure rate and delay can be decreased.

[0039] Therefore, one embodiment includes a system 300, such as the system illustrated in the example block diagram of Fig. 3. The system 300 may be configured to establish or setup a reference point or interface (Ve-Vnfm-em) between VNFM 103 and NM 110. System 300 may also be configured to divide NM 1 10 into at least a network management part (or network management function) 1 12 and an element management part (or element management function) 114. In an embodiment, the reference point/interface (Ve-Vnfm-em) may be established between the element management part 1 14 of the NM 1 10 and the VNFM 103. [0040] Optionally, in an embodiment, in order to align the management level in the mapping, the network management part 1 12 within the NM 1 10 may be used to connect to the NFVO 102 by an Os-Ma-nfvo reference point or interface, thereby supporting network service (in ETSI NF V GS term) level management. Accordingly, in an embodiment, system 300 may be configured to connect the network management part 1 14 of NM 1 10 to the NFVO 102 by the Os-Ma-nfvo reference point/interface.

[0041] According to one embodiment, the functionalities supported by the new Ve-Vnfm-em reference point/interface 150 between the NM 110 and VNFM 103 may include, but is not limited to, VNF related VR performance management (e.g., PM data collection, threshold crossing notifications), VNF related VR fault management, and VNF life cycle management, such as VNF instantiation in case of "system context B" (where EM is "inside of the VNF").

[0042] In certain embodiments, the VNF related VR performance management (e.g., by NM-VNFM interface) may include performance measurement collection and performance measurement threshold setting.

[0043] For the performance measurement collection, the NM 110 may request the VNFM 103 to create a measurement job to collect the VNF related VR performance measurements. The VNFM 103 may then check the validity of the measurement job, and acknowledge the successful creation of the job if it is valid or reject the job if it is invalid. If the measurement job is successfully created, the VNFM 103 may collect the VR performance measurements according to the created measurement job from the VIM (according to NFV IFA GS 006) and/or VNF (VNFC), and may identify the VR performance measurements which are related to VNF. Then, the VNFM 103 may prepare the performance data file, and notify the NM 1 10 about the prepared performance data file when the reporting period is reached or begins. [0044] For the performance measurement threshold setting, the NM 1 10 m ay request the VNFM 103 to create a measurement threshold job for the VNF related VR performance measurements. The VNFM 103 may check the validity of the measurement threshold job, and acknowledge the successful creation of the job if it is valid, or reject this job if it is invalid. If the measurement threshold job is successfully created, the VNFM 103 may collect the VR performance measurements according to the created measurement threshold job from the VIM (according to NFV IF A GS 006) and/or VNF (VNFC), may identify the VR performance measurements which are related to VNF, and may check whether the measurement threshold has been crossed. Alternatively, when the measurement threshold job is successfully created, the VNFM 103 may create the corresponding VR measurement threshold job to VIM and/or VNF (VNFC). When a threshold crossing notification is received, the VNFM " 103 may identify whether this threshold crossing notification is VNF related. If the threshold is crossed, the VNFM 103 may send the VR measurement threshold crossing notification to the NM 1 10.

[0045] In certain embodiments, the VNF fault management may be performed over the NM-VNFM interface. For example, the VNFM 103 may obtain VR related fault information from VIM according to IF A GS006, which is incorporated herein in its entirety. This VR fault information may be correlated to VNF instance by the VNFM 103 and may be reported to the NM 110 as well on the NM-VNFM interface (i.e., the Ve-Vnfm-em interface between VNFM 103 and NM 1 10).

[0046] In embodiments of the invention, by the new Ve-Vnfm-em reference point/interface 150 between the NM 1 10 and VNFM 103 may also support VNF Lifecycle management in case of "system context B". In this case, the NM 1 10 may request the VNFM 103 to instantiate a VNF (whose VNF package is on-boarded). The VNFM 103 may process the VNF instantiation procedure (e.g., according to NFV IF A GS 006 and IF A GS 007) with MANO entities (NFVO, VIM). Configuration of VNF application parameters by EM may be done invisibly since EM is inside of the VNF instance. The VNFM 103 may acknowledge the result (e.g., success or failure) of VNF instantiation to the NM 1 10. Any other VNF LCM operation may be triggered in the same interface, e.g., for VNF scaling, VNF termination or VNF healing.

[0047] Fig. 4a illustrates an example of an apparatus 10 according to an embodiment. In an embodiment, apparatus 10 may be a node, host, or server in a communications network or serving such a network. In an embodiment, apparatus 10 may be a virtualized apparatus. For example, in certain embodiments, apparatus 10 may be one or more of an operations support system, a network manager (e.g., a network manager within an operations support system), a network function virtualization orchestrator, and/or a virtualized network function manager, as shown in Figs, 1-3. However, in other embodiments, apparatus 10 may be other components within a radio access network or other network infrastructure. It should be noted that one of ordinary skill in the art would understand that apparatus 10 may include components or features not shown in Fig, 4a.

[0048] As illustrated in Fig. 4a, apparatus 10 may include a processor 22 for processing information and executing instructions or operations. Processor 22 may be any type of general or specific purpose processor. Whi le a single processor 22 is shown in Fig. 4a, multiple processors may be utilized according to other embodiments. In fact, processor 22 may include one or more of general-purpose computers, special purpose computers, microprocessors, digital signal processors (DSPs), field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), and processors based on a multi-core processor architecture, as examples. It should be noted that, in certain embodiments, apparatus 10 may be a virtualized apparatus and processor 22 may be a virtual compute resource. [0049] Apparatus 10 may further include or be coupled to a memory 14 (internal or external), which may be coupled to processor 22, for storing information and instructions that may be executed by processor 22. Memory 14 may be one or more memories and of any type suitable to the local application environment, and may be implemented using any suitable volatile or nonvolatile data storage technology such as a semiconductor-based memory device, a magnetic memory device and system, an optical memory device and system, fixed memory, and removable memory. For example, memory 14 can be comprised of any combination of random access memory (RAM), read only memory (ROM), static storage such as a magnetic or optical disk, or any other type of non-transitory machine or computer readable media. The instructions stored in memory 14 may include program instructions or computer program code that, when executed by processor 22, enable the apparatus 10 to perform tasks as described herein. In other embodiments, memory 14 may be part of virtualized compute resource or virtualized storage resource.

[0050] In some embodiments, apparatus 10 may also include or be coupled to one or more antennas 25 for transmitting and receiving signals and/or data to and from apparatus 10. Apparatus 10 may further include or be coupled to a transceiver 28 configured to transmit and receive information. For instance, transceiver 28 may be configured to modulate information on to a carrier waveform for transmission by the antenna(s) 25 and demodulate information received via the antenna(s) 25 for further processing by other elements of apparatus 10. In other embodiments, transceiver 28 may be capable of transmitting and receiving signals or data directly. In some embodiments, transceiver 28 may be comprised of virtualized network resources.

[0051] Processor 22 may perform functions associated with the operation of apparatus 10 which may include, for example, precoding of antenna gam/phase parameters, encoding and decoding of individual bits forming a communication message, formatting of information, and overall control of the apparatus 10, including processes related to management of communication resources. As mentioned above, in certain embodiments, processor 22 may be a virtualized compute resource that is capable of performing functions associated with virtualized network resources.

[0052] In an embodiment, memory 14 may store software modules that provide functionality when executed by processor 22. The modules may include, for example, an operating system that provides operating system functionality for apparatus 10. The memory may also store one or more functional modules, such as an application or program, to provide additional functionality for apparatus 10. The components of apparatus 10 may be implemented in hardware, or as any suitable combination of hardware and software.

[0053] In certain embodiments, apparatus 10 may be or may act as an operations support system (OSS), a network manager (NM), a network function virtualization orchestrator (NFVO), and/or a virtualized network function manager (VNFM), for example. According to certain embodiments, a network function may be decomposed into smaller blocks or parts of application, platform, and resources. The network function may be at least one of a physical network function or a virtualized network function.

[0054] According to one embodiment, apparatus 10 may be or may act as a VNFM, such as VNFM 103 illustrated in Figs. 1-3. In an embodiment, apparatus 10 may be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to receive a request from a NM to create a measurement job to collect VNF related VR performance measurements. According to one embodiment, the request from the NM may be received over a new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point established between the NM and apparatus 10. In one example, the new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point is between the element management part of the NM and apparatus 10. [0055] In an embodiment, apparatus 10 may be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to check the validity of the measurement job, and to acknowledge successful creation of the measurement job when it is valid or to reject the measurement job when it is invalid. When the measurement job is successfully created, apparatus 10 may be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to collect the VR performance measurements from VIM or VNF(VNFC), and to identify the VR performance measurements that are related to VNF. Apparatus 10 may then be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to prepare a performance data file based on the identified VNF related VR performance measurements, and to notify the NM of the performance data file when the reporting period starts.

[0056] In another embodiment, where apparatus 10 may be or may act as a VNFM, apparatus 10 may be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to receive a request from a NM to create a measurement threshold job for VNF related VR performance measurements. According to one embodiment, the request from the NM ma be received over a new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point established between the NM and apparatus 10. The new V e-Vnfm-em interface/reference point may be established between the element management part of the NM and apparatus 10.

[0057] In an embodiment, apparatus 10 may be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to check the validity of the measurement threshold job, and to acknowledge successful creation of the measurement threshold job when it is valid or to reject the measurement threshold job when it is invalid. When the measurement threshold job is successfully created, apparatus 10 may be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to collect the VR performance measurements according to the created measurement threshold job from VIM and/or VNF(VNFC), identify the VR performance measurements which are related to VNF, and check whether the measurement threshold has been crossed. Alternatively, when the measurement threshold job is successfully created, apparatus 10 may be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to create the corresponding VR measurement threshold job to VIM and/or V F(VNFC). When a threshold crossing notification is received, apparatus 10 may be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to identify whether this threshold crossing notification is VNF related. When the threshold is reached/crossed, apparatus 10 may be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to send a VR measurement threshold crossing notification to the NM, for example over the new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point.

[0058] In another embodiment, apparatus 10 may be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to receive a request from the NM over the new Ve-Vnfm-em interface to instantiate a VNF, where "system context B" is supported. Apparatus 10 may then be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to process the VNF instantiation procedure and to acknowledge the result of the VNF instantiation procedure to the NM over the new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point.

[0059] In another embodiment, apparatus 10 may be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to obtain fault related information from a VIM, and to correlate the VR fault related information to VNF instance(s). Apparatus 10 may then be controlled by memory 14 and processor 22 to report the correlated VR fault related information to the NM over the new Ve-V nfm-em interface/reference point.

[0060] Fig. 4b illustrates an example of an apparatus 20 according to another embodiment. In an embodiment, apparatus 20 may be a node, element, or entity in a communications network or associated with such a network. In an embodiment, apparatus 20 may be a virtualized apparatus. For example, in certain embodiments, apparatus 20 may be an operations support system, network manager (e.g., a network manager within an operations support system) network function virtualization orchestrator, and/or virtualized network function manager, as shown in Figs. 1-3. However, in other embodiments, apparatus 20 may be other components within a radio access network or other network infrastructure. It should be noted that one of ordinary skill in the art would understand that apparatus 20 may include components or features not explicitly shown in Fig. 4b.

[0061] As illustrated in Fig. 4b, apparatus 20 includes a processor 32 for processing information and executing instructions or operations. Processor 32 may be any type of general or specific purpose processor. While a single processor 32 is shown in Fig. 4b, multiple processors may be utilized according to other embodiments. In fact, processor 32 may include one or more of general-purpose computers, special purpose computers, microprocessors, digital signal processors (DSPs), field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), and processors based on a multi-core processor architecture, as examples. It should be noted that, in certain embodiments, apparatus 20 may be a virtualized apparatus and processor 32 may be a virtual compute resource.

[0062] Apparatus 20 may further include or be coupled to a memory 34 (internal or external), which may be coupled to processor 32, for storing information and instructions that may be executed by processor 32. Memory 34 may be one or more memories and of any type suitable to the local application environment, and may be implemented using any suitable volatile or nonvolatile data storage technology such as a semiconductor-based memory device, a magnetic memory device and system, an optical memory device and system, fixed memory, and removable memory. For example, memory 34 can be comprised of any combination of random access memory (RAM), read only memory (ROM), static storage such as a magnetic or optical disk, or any other type of non-transitory machine or computer readable media. The instructions stored in memory 34 may include program instructions or computer program code that, when executed by processor 32, enable the apparatus 20 to perform tasks as described herein. In other embodiments, memory 34 may be part of virtualized compute resource or virtual ized storage resource.

[0063] In some embodiments, apparatus 20 may also include or be coupled to one or more antennas 35 for transmitting and receiving signals and/or data to and from apparatus 20. Apparatus 20 may further include a transceiver 38 configured to transmit and receive information. For instance, transceiver 38 may be configured to modulate mformation on to a carrier waveform for transmission by the antenna(s) 35 and demodulate information received via the antenna(s) 35 for further processing by other elements of apparatus 20. In other embodiments, transceiver 38 may be capable of transmitting and receiving signals or data directly. In some embodiments, transceiver 38 may be comprised of virtualized network resources.

[0064] Processor 32 may perform functions associated with the operation of apparatus 20 including, without limitation, preceding of antenna gain/phase parameters, encoding and decoding of individual bits forming a communication message, formatting of information, and overall control of the apparatus 20, including processes related to management of communication resources. As mentioned above, in certain embodiments, processor 32 may be a virtualized compute resource that is capable of performing functions associated with virtualized network resources.

[0065] In an embodiment, memory 34 stores software modules that provide functionality when executed by processor 32. The modules may include, for example, an operating system that provides operating system functionality for apparatus 20. The memory may also store one or more functional modules, such as an application or program, to provide additional functionality for apparatus 20. The components of apparatus 20 may be implemented in hardware, or as any suitable combination of hardware and software.

[0066] According to one embodiment, apparatus 20 may be or may act as a NM, such as NM 1 10 illustrated in Figs, 1 -3. According to an embodiment, apparatus 20 may be controlled by memory 34 and processor 32 to transmit a request to a V FM to create a measurement job to collect VNF related VR performance measurements. According to one embodiment, the request may be sent over a new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point established between the apparatus 20 and VNFM. In one example, apparatus 20 is divided into a network management part and element management part, and the new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point is between the element management part of apparatus 20 and the VNFM.

[0067] In an embodiment, apparatus 20 may be controlled by memory 34 and processor 32 to receive an acknowledgement of successful creation of the measurement job when it is valid or an indication that the measurement job was rejected when it is invalid. When the measurement job is successfully created, apparatus 20 may be controlled by memory 34 and processor 32 to receive a notification of the performance data file containing the VR performance measurements that are related to VNF, when the reporting period begins.

[0068] In another embodiment, apparatus 20 may be controlled by memory 34 and processor 32 to transmit a request to a VNFM to create a measurement threshold job for VNF related VR performance measurements. According to one embodiment, the request may be sent over a new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point established between the apparatus 20 and VNFM. The new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point may be established between the element management part of the apparatus 20 and the VNFM. In an embodiment, apparatus 20 may be controlled by memory 34 and processor 32 to receive an acknowledgement of successful creation of the measurement threshold job when it is valid, or to receive a rejection of the measurement threshold job when it is invalid. When the measurement threshold job is successfully created, apparatus 20 may be controlled by memory 34 and processor 32 to receive, when the threshold is reached/crossed, a VR measurement threshold crossing notification to the NM, for example over the new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point,

[0069] In another embodiment, apparatus 20 may be controlled by memory 34 and processor 32 to send a request to the VNFM over the new Ve-Vnfm-em interface to instantiate a VNF, where "system context B" is supported. Apparatus 20 may then be controlled by memory 34 and processor 32 to receive an acknowledgement of the result of the VNF instantiation procedure over the new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point.

[0070] In another embodiment, apparatus 20 may be controlled by memory 34 and processor 32 to receive a report of correlated VR fault related information from the VNFM over the new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point,

[0071] Fig. 5 illustrates an example flow diagram of a method, according to one embodiment. The method of Fig. 5 may be performed by a nodes or entities virtualized network environment, such as the one illustrated in Fig. 3. The method may include, at 500, dividing the NM into at least a network management part and an element management part. The method may also include, at 505, establishing or setting up a reference point or interface (i.e., Ve-Vnfm-em) between a VNFM and (element management part of) NM. In an embodiment, the establishing at step 505 may further include establishing the reference point/interface (Ve-Vnfm-em) between the element management part of the NM and the VNFM. In an embodiment, the method may further include, at 510, connectmg the network management part of NM to the NFVO by the Os-Ma-nfvo reference point/interface.

[0072] Fig. 6a illustrates an example flow diagram of a method, according to another embodiment. The method of Fig. 6a may be performed by a network node or entity, such as a VNFM. The method may include, at 520, receiving a request from a NM to create a measurement job to collect VNF related VR performance measurements. According to one embodiment, the request from the NM may be received over a new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point established between the NM and the VNFM. In one example, the new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point is between the element management part of the NM and the VNFM. In an embodiment, the method may further include, at 525, checking the validity of the measurement job, and, at 530, acknowledging successful creation of the measurement job when it is valid or, at 531, rejecting the measurement job when it is invalid. When the measurement job is successfully created, the method may further include, at 535, collecting the VR performance measurements from VIM or VNF(VNFC) and identifying the VR performance measurements that are related to VNF. The method may then include, at 540, preparing a performance data file based on the identified VNF related VR performance measurements, and, at 545, notifying the NM of the performance data file when the reporting period starts.

[0073] Fig. 6b illustrates an example flow diagram of a method, according to another embodiment. The method of Fig. 6b may be performed by a network node or entity, such as a VNFM. The method may include, at 550, receiving a request from a NM to create a measurement threshold job for VNF related VR performance measurements. According to one embodiment, the request from the NM may be received over a new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point established between the NM and VNFM. The new Ve- nfm-em interface/reference point may be established between the element management part of the NM and VNFM ,

[0074] In an embodiment, the method may also include, at 555, checking the validity of the measurement threshold job, and, at 556, acknowledging successful creation of the measurement threshold job when it is valid or, at 557, rejecting the measurement threshold job when it is invalid. When the measurement threshold job is successfully created, the method may include, at 560, collecting the VR performance measurements according to the created measurement threshold job from VIM and/or VNF(VNFC), identifying the VR performance measurements which are related to VNF, and checking whether the measurement threshold has been crossed. Alternatively, when the measurement threshold job is successfully created, the method may include, at 565, creating the corresponding VR measurement threshold job to VIM and/or VNF(V FC). When a threshold crossing notification is received, the method may then include, at 570, identifying whether this threshold crossing notification is VNF related and sending a VR measurement threshold crossing notification to the NM, for example over the new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point.

[0075] Fig. 6c illustrates an example flow diagram of a method, according to another embodiment. The method of Fig. 6c may be performed by a network node or entity, such as a VNFM. The method may include, at 575, receiving a request from the NM over the new Ve-Vnfm-em interface to instantiate a VNF, where "system context B" is supported. The method may also include, at 580, processing the VNF instantiation procedure and, at 585, acknowledging the result of the VNF instantiation procedure to the NM over the new Ve-Vnfm-em i terface/reference point,

[0076] Fig. 6d illustrates an example flow diagram of a method, according to another embodiment. The method of Fig. 6d may also be performed by a network node or entity, such as a VNFM. The method may include, at 590, obtaining fault related information from a VIM, and, at 595, correlating the VR fault related information to VNF instance(s). The method may also include, at 599, reporting the correlated VR fault related information to the NM over the new Ve-Vnfm-em interface/reference point.

[0077] In view of the above, certain embodiments of the invention are directed to the VNFM allowing the NM (by the element management part) to consume the Ve-Vnfm-em reference point. As a result, embodiments of the invention are able to achieve several advantages and/or technical impro ements. For example, these advantages and/or technical improvements include the EM no longer needing to be involved to support NM for VNF related VR Performance Management, which saves considerable work load that unnecessary for EM. In addition, the direct interface from the NM to the VNFM (comparing with transferring by EM), as provided by embodiments of the invention, is much more efficient and reliable. Furthermore, VNF instantiation can now also be supported for the case of "System Context B".

[0078] In some embodiments, the functionality of any of the methods, processes, or flow charts described herein may be implemented by software and/or computer program code or portions of code stored in memory or other computer readable or tangible media, and executed by a processor. In some embodiments, the apparatus may be, included or be associated with at least one software application, module, unit or entity configured as arithmetic operation( s), or as a program or portions of it (including an added or updated software routine), executed by at least one operation processor. Programs, also called program products or computer programs, including software routines, objects, functions, applets and/or macros, may be stored in any apparatus-readable data storage medium and may include program instructions to perform particular tasks.

[0079] A computer program product may comprise one or more computer-executable components which, when the program is run, are configured to earn,' out embodiments of the invention. The one or more computer-executable components may be at least one software code or portions of it. Modifications and configurations required for implementing functionality of an embodiment may be performed as routme(s), which may be implemented as added or updated software routine(s). Software routine(s) may be downloaded into the apparatus.

[0080] Software or a computer program code or portions of code may be in a source code form, object code form, or in some intermediate form, and may be stored in some sort of carrier, distribution medium, or computer readable medium, which may be any entity or device capable of carrying the program. Such carriers may include a record medium, computer memory, read-only memory, photoelectrical and/or electrical carrier signal, telecommunications signal, or software distribution package, for example. Depending on the processing power needed, the computer program may be executed in a single electronic digital computer or it may be distributed amongst a number of computers. The computer readable medium or computer readable storage medium may be a non-transitory medium.

[0081] In other embodiments, the functionality may be performed by hardware, for example through the use of an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC), a programmable gate array (PGA), a field programmable gate array (FPGA), or any other combination of hardware and software. In yet another embodiment, the functionality may be implemented as a signal, or a non-tangible means, that can be carried by an electromagnetic signal downloaded from the Internet or other network.

[0082] According to an embodiment, an apparatus, such as a node, device, or a corresponding component, may be configured as a computer or a microprocessor, such as single-chip computer element, or as a chipset, including at least a memory for providing storage capacity used for arithmetic operation and an operation processor for executing the arithmetic operation.

[0083] One having ordinary skill in the art will readily understand that the invention as discussed above may be practiced with steps in a different order, and/or with hardware elements in configurations which are different than those which are disclosed. Therefore, although the invention has been described based upon these preferred embodiments, it would be apparent to those of skill in the art that certain modifications, variations, and alternative constructions would be apparent, while remaining within the spirit and scope of the invention. In order to determine the metes and bounds of the invention, therefore, reference should be made to the appended claims.