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Verizon outlines SDN, NFV deployment progress, plans

Verizon provides insight into its SDN and NFV deployment plans, including current deployment challenges and potential hurdles ahead

Telecom operators moving towards software solutions using software-defined networking and network functions virtualization technologies are finding a challenging environment. Traditional vendor support for such moves are being hindered by internal business models that are being overhauled by the move away from traditional hardware to commodity white boxes powered by software, which is forcing many telecom operators to search outside their usual vendor channels for support or turn internally to develop their own platforms.

Verizon Communications is one of the leading firms in terms of integrating SDN- and NFV-based software solutions into their network operations. The carrier last year announced SDN plans with five vendors: Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Juniper Networks and Nokia Networks. As part of the announcement, Verizon said it had been working on the move toward virtualized platforms over the past several years, including the creation of live lab environments in San Jose, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; and Waltham, Mass., and claims to have commercial data center environments on both coasts.

The carrier later in the year launched a software-defined WAN service using Cisco’s Intelligent WAN technology and targeting enterprise customers. Verizon said the platform supports a better user experience by integrated application optimization designed for faster application performance; enabling secure and certified routing platforms; the use of intelligent path control to fully utilize MPLS and the Internet to lower operational costs; and can provision new sites and services faster with a “hybrid WAN to support key business initiatives.”

RCR Wireless News recently spoke with Shawn Hakl, VP of enterprise networking and innovation at Verizon, to get his insight into the telecom operator’s push into software, challenges it has seen in that migration and hurdles it expects to encounter in the future.

RCR Wireless News: What commercial operations/services has Verizon so far migrated to being controlled by software using SDN and NFV?
Shawn Hakl: Verizon has updated and upgraded its managed services platform to support SDN- and NFV-based services. Verizon was the first service provider to offer a managed SD WAN service based on Cisco’s IWAN platform. Verizon has subsequently expanded its SD WAN solution to support a Viptela-based solution. Next, Verizon will launch a next-generation Secure Internet Gateway service using a software-based security appliance.

RCRWN: What challenges did Verizon see in making those initial migrations?
Hakl: Verizon upgraded its Managed Service Platform to monitor at the application level and manage policy per service rather than perform these functions at the device level. In addition, the provisioning work streams were updated to accommodate new types of software interfaces to the devices.

RCRWN: How supportive have vendors been in helping the migration process?
Hakl: We have received significant support from our technology partners and appreciate their willingness to adapt and improve their products based on our implementation experience.

RCRWN: What hurdles do you see remaining at this point in terms of further migration of operations/services to software control?
Hakl: The evolution to network virtualization requires an upgrade from traditional network skillsets. As a result, Verizon has adopted agile development techniques, expanded the role of analytics and heuristics in network management and has reorganized its operations organization to eliminate the silos between network, security and cloud.

For more information on the current move towards NFV, SDN and cloud deployments across the telecom space, check out the latest RCR Wireless News feature report “NFV, SDN and cloud: How deep and where?

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