VNF Forwarding Graph

VNF Forwarding Graph or VNFFG feature in Tacker is used to orchestrate and manage traffic through VNFs. In short, abstract VNFFG TOSCA definitions are rendered into Service Function Chains (SFCs) and Classifiers. The SFC makes up an ordered list of VNFs for traffic to traverse, while the classifier decides which traffic should go through them.

Similar to how VNFs are described by VNFDs, VNFFGs are described by VNF Forwarding Graph Descriptors (VNFFGD). Please see the devref guide on VNFFGD to learn more about how a VNFFGD is defined.

After creating a VNFFGD, a VNFFG is instantiated by a separate Tacker command. This action will build the chain and classifier necessary to realize the VNFFG.


VNFFG with OpenStack VIM relies on Neutron Networking-sfc to create SFC and Classifiers. Therefore it is required to install networking-sfc project in order to use Tacker VNFFG. Networking-sfc also requires at least OVS 2.5 .0, so also ensure that is installed. See the full Networking-sfc guide.

Creating the VNFFGD

Once OpenStack/Devstack along with Tacker has been successfully installed, deploy a sample VNFFGD template such as the one here.

Note: A current constraint of the Forwarding Path policy match criteria is to include the network_src_port_id, such as:

  type: ACL
    - network_src_port_id: 640dfd77-c92b-45a3-b8fc-22712de480e1

This is required due to a limitation of Neutron networking-sfc and only applies to an OpenStack VIM.

Tacker provides the following CLI to create a VNFFGD:

tacker vnffgd-create –vnffgd-file <vnffgd file> <vnffgd name>

Creating the VNFFG

To create a VNFFG, you must have first created VNF instances of the same VNFD types listed in the VNFFGD. Failure to do so will result in error when trying to create a VNFFG. Note, the VNFD you define must include the same Connection Point definitions as the ones you declared in your VNFFGD.

Refer the ‘Getting Started’ link below on how to create a VNFD and deploy a VNF:

Tacker provides the following CLI to create VNFFG:

tacker vnffg-create –vnffgd-id <vnffg-id> –vnffgd-name <vnffgd name> –vnf-mapping <vnf mapping> –symmetrical <boolean>


  • vnffgd-id/name - VNFFGD to use to instantiate this VNFFG
  • vnf-mapping - Allows a list of logical VNFD to VNF instance mapping
  • symmetrical - True/False

VNF Mapping is used to declare which exact VNF instance to be used for each VNF in the Forwarding Path. For example, imagine a Forwarding Path ‘path’ which includes VNF1 and VNF2 VNFDs. Two VNF instances already exist (one from each VNFD): ‘91e32c20-6d1f-47a4-9ba7-08f5e5effe07’, ‘7168062e-9fa1-4203-8cb7-f5c99ff3ee1b’. The following command would then map each VNFD defined in the VNFFGD Forwarding Path to the desired VNF instance:

tacker vnffg-create –vnffgd-name myvnffgd –vnf-mapping VNF1:‘91e32c20-6d1f-47a4-9ba7-08f5e5effe07’, VNF2:‘7168062e-9fa1-4203-8cb7-f5c99ff3ee1b’

Alternatively, if no vnf-mapping is provided then Tacker VNFFG will attempt to search for VNF instances derived from the given VNFDs in the VNFFGD. If multiple VNF instances exist for a given VNFD, the VNF instance chosen to be used in the VNFFG is done at random.

The symmetrical argument is used to indicate if reverse traffic should also flow through the path. This creates an extra classifier to ensure return traffic flows through the chain in a reverse path, otherwise this traffic routed normally and does not enter the VNFFG.

Note: Enabling symmetrical is not currently supported by the OpenStack VIM driver

Viewing a VNFFG

A VNFFG once created is instantiated as multiple sub-components. These components include the VNFFG itself, which relies on a Network Forwarding Path (NFP). The NFP is then composed of a Service Function Chain (SFC) and a Classifier. The main command to view a VNFFG is ‘tacker vnffg-show, however there are several commands available in order to view the sub-components for a rendered VNFFG:

  • tacker nfp-list
  • tacker nfp-show <nfp id>
  • tacker chain-list
  • tacker chain-show <chain id>
  • tacker classifier-list
  • tacker classifier-show <classifier id>

Known Issues and Limitations

  • Match criteria requires ‘network_src_port_id’
  • Only one Forwarding Path allowed per VNFFGD
  • Matching on criteria with postfix ‘name’ does not work, for example ‘network_name’
  • NSH attributes not yet supported
  • Symmetrical is not supported by driver yet

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