NFV/SDN Reality Check: Brocade talks evolution of network virtualization

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    On this week’s NFV/SDN Reality Check, RCR Wireless News Editor-In-Chief Dan Meyer provides updates on the latest in NFV- and SDN-related telecom news, and speaks with Tom Nadeau, distinguished engineer at Brocade, about the current evolution of network virtualization.

    The European Telecommunications Standards Institute recently released documents relating to the completion of “phase one” work on establishing a framework for network function virtualization technology.
    The latest NFV documents include an infrastructure overview; an updated architectural framework; descriptions of the compute, hypervisor and network domains of the infrastructure; management and orchestration; security and trust; and resilience and service quality metrics. The documents build on the initial phase one work that was released in late 2013.
    ETSI announced last month that its NFV plans have entered “phase two” following the completion of an organization meeting in Arizona. Phase two work is set to include growing interoperability across the NFV ecosystem; specifying reference points and requirements that were defined in phase one; growing industry engagement to ensure that its NFV requirements are met; and clarifying how NFV intersects with other standards, including software-defined networking and open-source initiatives.
    In other SDN/NFV related news
    • Huawei opened a new lab in Xi’an, China, focused on developing multivendor integration verification capabilities for NFV.
    The lab is said to be an expansion of Huawei’s move to work with customers, partners and organizations to help develop the NFV ecosystem. Partners attending the launch of the new lab included China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, VMware, Red Hat, Canonical and the Linux Foundation.
    Huawei cited a number of characteristics of user behavior tied to the growth of cloud technology that is leading to greater reliance on virtualization, including demand for real-time access to information, the growth of social platforms and increased requests for customer-controlled scalability. These characteristics are steering telecom operators toward virtualized platforms based on NFV and SDN.
    However, the vendor community is being challenged to meet telecom operator demands for open platforms that can operate in a multivendor environment. Huawei said the new lab, in addition to its previously launched SoftCom network architecture, furthers its work in attempting to meet this challenge as it plans to build an NFV big data analysis platform to support rollout plans.
    Huawei said its initial phase of work will be with China Mobile, VMware and Red Hat, but claims it is currently working with 20 operators and open-source organizations like ETSI, OpenStack, OpenDaylight and OPNFV. Huawei was also a founding member of the recently launched Open Network Operating System, which was unveiled late last year by the Open Network Lab as an open-source SDN platform.
    • Rumors recently surfaced claiming Google was in talks with Sprint and T-Mobile US to provide wireless services using a mobile virtual network operator model.
    The reports suggest Google would be looking to undercut current pricing models that are already under pressure from recent competitive moves by mobile operators.
    While the rhyme or reason behind a potential Google MVNO play are still up for debate, the rumor has spiked interest across virtualization channels.
    Tom Noelle of consulting firm CIMI posted a blog that was shared across various LinkedIn groups citing how the current move by network operators to virtualized environments could make it easier for MVNOs to begin offering services.
    Google is likely to focus efforts on virtualized platforms that it’s already familiar with including SDN and NFV, Noelle explained, and that any sort of partnership will likely involve a mobile operator working with the vendor community on virtualized platforms. However, that work could fall outside of current standards processes that so far have not outlined specific methods of dealing with platforms Google is likely looking at deploying.
    He added that a Google MVNO tapping into deeper virtualized deployments could also boost carrier plans for NFV and SDN deployments that may result in those operators being able to deploy more advanced services, which in turn could allow them to better compete against the likes of Google.
    • Staying on the standards issues surrounding telecom virtualization, RCR Wireless News spoke with Tom Nadeau of Brocade, about the challenges the vendor community faces in terms of wanting to design solutions that meet recognized industry standards as well as meeting the needs of their customers.
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