Vendors Push Telco Cloud NFVs Atop OpenStack

by Jason Verge on March 27, 2015

A two pair of technology giants has teamed up on Network Function Virtualization offerings. Oracle is using Intel’s Open Network Platform, and Canonical and Ericsson are teaming up to target the telecom cloud space. Both pairings are focusing their efforts atop OpenStack.

Network Function Virtualization is a way to package functions traditionally performed by specialized physical appliances into virtual machines that can run on any physical server. As part of a wider software-defined movement, many functions are moving away from the appliance model to providing functions through software. The data center revolution that was server virtualization over the past 10 years or so is now occurring across network, as well as storage.

Cloud NFVs as services hold a lot of market potential for companies that provide them and the end users themselves, who gain unprecedented network flexibility. Cloud NFV for telcos is an especially hot spot in the market, as network carriers are one of the groups standing to benefit from the technology the most.

In other recent NFV news, Brocade beefed up its play with the acquisition of Riverbed’s virtual Application Delivery Controller, and VMware rolled out 30 or so cloud NFVs delivered as services on top of its cloud infrastructure by partners.

Carrier-Grade Ubuntu to Enable Ericsson’s Cloud NFV

Canonical, known primarily for its Linux distribution Ubuntu, formed an alliance with the Swedish telco-gear vendor Ericsson to move into the cloud NFV space. The two firms will align engineering and go-to-market efforts over the next three years.

Ericsson will incorporate Ubuntu as the operating system of choice for its cloud. The partnership gives Canonical a foot in the door with CSPs to further push Ubuntu, and Ericsson can leverage Canonical’s rich technology ecosystem.

Ericsson’s networks see 40 percent of the world’s mobile traffic and connect more than 2.5 billion subscribers globally. Built on an OpenNFV platform, it promotes an industry standard for NFV. Ericsson, HP, and others launched ONFV last year.

“Cloud platforms for the network have to be secure, resilient, robust, and high-performing,” said Magnus Furustam, a vice president of cloud systems at Ericsson, in an Ubuntu blog post. “Partnering with Canonical for carrier-grade operating systems provides an opportunity for innovation to meet stringent telecom requirements in these areas.”

Oracle, Intel Team Up on OpenStack for Telcos

Oracle worked with Intel and leveraged Enhanced Platform Awareness in OpenStack, the popular open source cloud software suite, to deliver what it said was carrier-grade network performance. Oracle used Intel’s Open Network Platform, which combined Intel server architecture with open source software.

Network activity is directed to Intel processors providing more capacity in software than in limited hardware. CSPs can leverage the combo to develop new services and maintain service quality levels.

Oracle optimized products in its network orchestration framework, including its Communications Network Service Orchestration Solution. Customers can dynamically establish data center resource pools that mimic the specialized characteristics of a network appliance, such as large memory pages. The orchestration software routes work to the correct pool based on each function’s unique needs. Multi-vendor support is baked in.

“This initiative does more than just optimize Oracle Communications products for the Intel Open Network Platform,” said Liam Maxwell, vice president of products for Oracle Communications, in a press release. “It takes the theory of delivering carrier-grade capabilities in a commercial data center and turns it into reality. We’ve proven that we can orchestrate services and network functions from the top of the management and orchestration stack all the way to individual network processors, and we can do it at scale.”