The Open Platform for Network Functions Virtualization (OPNFV), the collaborative partnership for advancing open source software-defined networking and data centers that the Linux Foundation announced last month, is now officially live. Here's what it's up to so far, and what it hopes to becomes over the coming months and years.

Officially, OPNFV's goal is to "establish a carrier-grade, integrated, open source reference platform that industry peers will build together to advance the evolution of NFV and to ensure consistency, performance and interoperability among multiple open source components." As such, the project complements other software-defined computing initiatives that have sprouted within the open source ecosystem lately, especially OpenDaylight, the SDN platform that launched in April 2013 and has now issued its second software release.

But at this point, OPNFV remains very young and is still defining its direction and goals. And while little is set in stone so far, Technical Steering Committee chair Chris Price recently outlined basic aspects of the project, whose developers are shooting to issue the first software release for the platform by 2015.

The first OPNFV release "is aimed at open source component integration to form the NFVI platform for VNF hosting and for basic NFVI platform performance measurements," according to the project wiki. Toward that end, the developers envision leveraging existing open source APIs for building NFV infrastructure rather than implementing new ones.

The documentation available so far also suggests that developers plan to disaggregtate the components of OPNFV in a way that mirrors what OpenStack and other open source projects do, by treating orchestration, networking, computation and storage as distinct components. That, at least, is what the testing and performance-measurement notes available so far indicate.

Additional technical details and information on the tentative roadmap for the first release are spelled out on the OPNFV wiki. The project is also inviting proposals from all parties interested in shaping the future of open source NFV.

So far, OPNFV is clearly still young and growing, and it is far from certain what exactly it will end up being. But its sponsorship by the Linux Foundation and a large array of industry partners bodes well for its success, whatever form it takes. It's a project to watch as the next generation of datacenter technologies begins to coalesce.