Category Archives: NFV

OPNFV announces first major software release

OPNFV has launched the first version of its NFV platform

OPNFV has launched the first version of its NFV platform

Linux Foundation driven open source NFV organisation OPNFV has announced the availability of the first version of its software, which it is calling Arno, reports

OPNFV was formed just eight months ago by a group of NFV veterans including Chairman Prodip Sen, who was at Verizon and now also heads up NFV at HP. Its aim is to develop an open platform for NFV, which in turn should accelerate the growth of the technology and shorten the time to market for NFV solutions.

As the first release Arno, which commences a sequence of river-based names the second of which will presumably begin with B, is aimed at those exploring NFV deployments. It provides an initial build of the NFV Infrastructure (NFVI) and Virtual Infrastructure Manager (VIM) components of ETSI NFV architecture.

“Only eight months after its formation, OPNFV has met one of its major goals by creating an integrated build, deployment and testing environment that accelerates NFV implementation and interoperability,” said Sen. “With Arno, we now have a solid foundation for testing some of the key resource orchestration and network control components for NFV. This is great a testament to the power of an open source collaborative model and the strength of the NFV ecosystem.”

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what Arno (which is available to download here) brings to the table, according to the OPNFV announcement:

  • Availability of baseline platform: Arno enables continuous integration, automated deployment and testing of components from upstream projects such as Ceph, KVM, OpenDaylight, OpenStack and Open vSwitch. It allows developers and users to automatically install and explore the platform.
  • Ability to deploy and test various VNFs: End users and developers can deploy their own or third party VNFs on Arno to test its functionality and performance in various traffic scenarios and use cases.
  • Availability of test infrastructure in community-hosted labs: Agile testing plays a crucial role in the OPNFV platform. With Arno, the project is unveiling a community test labs infrastructure where users can test the platform in different environments and on different hardware. This test labs infrastructure enables the platform to be exercised in different NFV scenarios to ensure that the various open source components come together to meet vendor and end user needs.
  • Allows automatic continuous integration of specific components: As upstream projects are developed independently they require testing of various OPNFV use cases to ensure seamless integration and interworking within the platform. OPNFV’s automated toolchain allows continuous automatic builds and verification.

Nokia eyes the cloud infrastructure market with OpenStack, VMware-based servers

Nokia is offering up its own blade servers to the telco world

Nokia is offering up its own blade servers to the telco world

Nokia Networks revealed its AirFrame datacentre solutions this week, high-density blade servers running a combination of OpenStack and VMware software and designed to support Nokia’s virtualised network services for telcos.

“We are taking on the IT-telco convergence with a new solution to challenge the traditional IT approach of the datacentre,” said Marc Rouanne, executive vice president, Mobile Broadband at Nokia Networks.

“This newest solution brings telcos carrier-grade high availability, security-focused reliability as well as low latency, while leveraging the company’s deep networks expertise and strong business with operators to address an increasingly cloud-focused market valued in the tens of billions of euros.”

The servers, which come pre-integrated with Nokia’s own switches, are based on Intel’s x86 chips and run OpenStack as well as VMware, and can be managed using Nokia’s purpose-built cloud management solution. The platforms are ETSI NFV / OPNFV-certified, so they can run Nokia’s own VNFs as well as those developed by certified third parties.

The company’s orchestration software can also manage the split between both virtualised and network legacy functions in either centralised or distributed network architectures.

Phil Twist, vice president of Portfolio Marketing at Nokia Networks told BCN the company designed the servers specifically for the telco world, adding things like iNICs and accelerators to handle the security, encryption, virtual routing, digital signal processing (acceleration for radio) that otherwise would tie up processor capacity in a telco network.

But he also said the servers could be leveraged for standing up its own cloud services, or for the wider scale-out market.

“Our immediate ambition is clear: to offer a better alternative for the build-out of telco clouds optimized for that world.  But of course operators have other in-house IT requirements which could be hosted on this same cloud, and indeed they could then offer cloud services to their enterprise customers on this same cloud,” he explained.

“We could potentially build our own cloud to host SaaS propositions to our customers, or in theory potentially offer the servers for enterprise applications but that’s not our initial focus,” he added.

Though Twist didn’t confirm whether this was indeed Nokia’s first big move towards the broader IT infrastructure market outside networking, the announcement does mean the company will be brought into much closer competition with both familiar (Ericsson, Cisco) and less familiar (HP) incumbents offering their own OpenStack-integrated cloud kit.

HP buys ConteXtreme in SDN, NFV play

HP is acquiring SDN specialist ConteXtreme

HP is acquiring SDN specialist ConteXtreme

HP has acquired software-defined networking (SDN) specialist ConteXtreme to strengthen its service provider business and network function virtualisation (NFV) offerings.

Founded in 2007, ConteXtream provides an OpenDaylight-based, carrier-grade SDN fabric controller that works on most hypervisors and commodity server infrastructure. It’s based on the IETF network virtualisation overlay (NVO3) architecture, which includes virtualised network edge nodes that aggregate flows and maps them to specific functions, a mapping subsystem based on the Location-Identity Separation Protocol (LISP), a set of application-specific flow handlers for service chaining, and a high-performance software flow switch.

The company also offers analytics that help monitor traffic and detect anomalies.

“We’re moving away from being tied to dedicated machines to having a resource pool with automated, self-service mechanisms. In the networking world, there are countless functions – firewall, caching, optimization, filtering etc. – and a bunch of inflexible hardware to do those things. NFV is about saying, ‘Why can’t we put these various functions in the cloud? Why does each function need to be on specialized and dedicated hardware?’,” explained HP’s telco business lead Saar Gillai.

“ConteXtream’s scalable and open and standards-based technology delivers innovative capabilities like advanced service function chaining, and is deployed at a number of major carrier networks across the globe. ConteXtream’s technology connects subscribers to services, enabling carriers to leverage their existing standard server hardware to virtualize functions and services.”

Gillai said the acquisition will accelerate its leadership in NFV, and that HP also plans to increase its involvement with OpenDaylight, an open source collaboration between many of the industry’s major networking incumbents on the core architectures enabling SDN and NFV.

The past year has seen HP slowly scale up its involvement with SDN and NFV initiatives.

In September last year the company announced the launch of an app store for HP customers to download SDN-enabled and virtual networking applications and tools – networking monitoring tools, virtual firewalls, virtual load balancers and the like – developed by HP as well third parties and open source communities. It also partnered with Wind River to integrate its NFV technologies with HP Helion OpenStack.

Ericsson cloud lab to focus on NFV, SDN

Ericsson is opening up a lab to help coordinate SDN and NFV research among telcos

Ericsson is opening up a lab to help coordinate SDN and NFV research among telcos

Ericsson has opened a lab in Italy which will coordinate research among telecoms operators on deploying software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualisation (NFV) in their datacentres.

The company said the lab, which will be based in Rome but will also have an associated cloud platform for data sharing and collaboration, will help develop multi-vendor SDN and NFV solutions that primarily address the needs of telcos.

Participating organisations will be able to link up to the cloud platform and share their results.

Nunzio Mirtillo, head of Ericsson in the Mediterranean region said: “Cloud will enable the biggest evolution of the telecom business and this new lab is an example of Ericsson’s passion for driving innovations in Italy.”

“As great ideas come from collaboration, operators can turn cloud-based approaches to their advantage and implement new architectures that provide network efficiency and shorter time to market for innovative services,” Mirtillo added.

The company said the lab is intended to help operators experiment with getting SDN and NFV technologies integrated into their existing infrastructure estate, which can be quite a challenge for most that aren’t refreshing their hardware for SDN or NFV compliance quickly enough. As a result many have been forced to take the overlay approach.

Ericsson is already working with a number of operators on SDN and NFV. Last year the company was tapped up by Telstra and AT&T to help virtualise key aspects of their networks.

Cisco to buy Embrane in NFV automation play

Cisco is consolidating its NFV portfolio with an increasing focus on automation

Cisco is consolidating its NFV portfolio with an increasing focus on automation

Networking giant Cisco announced its intent to acquire network function virtualisation (NFV) and Cisco tech specialist Embrane for an undisclosed sum this week, a move intended to bolster the company’s networking automation capabilities.

“With agility and automation as persistent drivers for IT teams, the need to simplify application deployment and build the cloud is crucial for the datacentre,” explained Cisco’s corporate development lead Hilton Romanski.

“As we continue to drive virtualization and automation, the unique skillset and talent of the Embrane team will allow us to move more quickly to meet customer demands. Together with Cisco’s engineering expertise, the Embrane team will help to expand our strategy of offering freedom of choice to our customers through the Nexus product portfolio and enhance the capabilities of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI),” he said, adding that the purchase also builds on previous commitments to open standards, open APIs, and playing nicely in multi-vendor environments.

Beyond complimenting Cisco’s ACI efforts, Dante Malagrinò, one of the founders of Embrane and its chief product officer said the move will help further the company’s goal of driving software-hardware integration in the networking space, and offer Embrane an attractive level of scale few vendors playing in this space have.

“Joining Cisco gives us the opportunity to continue our journey and participate in one of the most significant shifts in the history of networking:  leading the industry to better serve application needs through integrated software-hardware models,” he explained.

“The networking DNA of Cisco and Embrane together drives our common vision for an Application Centric Infrastructure.  We both believe that innovation must be evolutionary and enable IT organizations to transition to their future state on their own terms – and with their own timelines.  It’s about coexistence of hardware with software and of new with legacy in a way that streamlines and simplifies operations.”

Cisco is quickly working to consolidate its NFV offerings, and more recently its OpenStack services, as the vendor continues to target cloud service providers and telcos looking to revamp their datacentres. In March it was revealed Cisco struck a big deal with T-Systems, Deutsche Telekom’s enterprise-focused subsidiary, that will see the German incumbent roll out Cisco’s OpenStack-based infrastructure in datacentre in Biere, near Magdeburg, as well as a virtual hotspot service for SMEs.

IBM opens SDN, NFV labs in Dallas, Paris

IBM is moving to bolster its service provider business

IBM is moving to bolster its service provider business

IBM has announced the launch of two Network Innovation Centres, where the company’s clients can experiment with software-defined networking and network function virtualisation technologies. The move seems aimed at bolstering its service provider business.

The centres, one in Paris, France and the other in Dallas, Texas, will focus primarily on experimenting with solutions for large enterprise networking systems and telecoms operators, and feature technologies from a range of IBM partner companies including Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Juniper Networks, Riverbed, and VMware.

IBM said facilitating automation and orchestration innovation will be the main thrust of the centres.

“Effectively applying cloud technologies to the network could allow a company to reduce its overall network capacity while increasing utilization by dynamically providing resources during the day in Beijing while it’s nighttime in New York, and vice versa,” said Pete Lorenzen, general manager, Networking Services, IBM Global Technology Services.

“A telecom company could better manage periodic, localized spikes in smartphone usage caused by major sporting events or daily urban commutes, dynamically provisioning capacity when and where it’s needed,” Lorenzen added.

IBM has pushed farther into the networking space in recent years, having scored a number of patents in the area of networking automation and dynamic network resource allocation. A significant driver of this is its service provider business, where some of the company’s competitors – like HP – are attempting to make inroads.

Open Networking Foundation wary of ‘big vendor’ influence on SDN

Pitt said networking has remained too proprietary for too long

Pitt said networking has remained too proprietary for too long

Dan Pitt, executive director of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), has warned of the dangers of allowing the big networking vendors to have too much influence over the development of SDN, arguing they have a strong interest in maintaining the proprietary status quo.

In an exclusive interview with, Pitt recalled the non-profit ONF was born of frustration at the proprietary nature of the networking industry. “We came out of research that was done at Stanford University and UC Berkeley that was trying to figure out why networking equipment isn’t programmable,” he said.

The networking industry has been back in the mainframe days; you buy a piece of equipment from one company and its hardware, chips, operating system are all proprietary. The computing industry got over that a long time ago – basically when the PC came out – but the networking industry hasn’t.

“So out of frustration at not being able to programme the switches and with faculties wanting to experiment with protocols beyond IP, they decided to break open the switching equipment and have a central place that sees the whole network, figures out how the traffic should be routed and tells the switches what to do.”

Disruptive change, by definition, is bound to threaten a lot of incumbents and Pitt identifies this as a major reason why Networking stayed in the proprietary era for so long. “Originally we were a bunch of people that had been meeting on Tuesday afternoons to work out this OpenFlow protocol and we said we should make it an industrial strength standard,” said Pitt. “But if we give it to the IETF they’re dominated by a small number of very large switching and routing companies and they will kill it.”

“This is very disruptive to some of the traditional vendors that have liked to maintain a proprietary system and lock in their customers to end-to-end solutions you have to buy from them. Some have jumped on it, but some of the big guys have held back. They’ve opened their own interfaces but they still define the interface and can make it so you still need their equipment. We’re very much the advocates of open SDN, where you don’t have a single party or little cabal that owns and controls something to disadvantage their competitors.”

Ultimately it’s hard to argue against open standards as they increase the size of the industry for everyone. But equally it’s not necessarily in the short term interest of companies already in a strong position in a sector to encourage its evolution. What is becoming increasingly clear, however, is that the software genie is out of the bottle in the networking space and the signs are that it’s a positive trend for all concerned.