As network function virtualization (NFV) has evolved from lab experiments to live production, one thing has become abundantly clear: no single vendor can do it alone.
Why? Because NFV is complex. Partly, this is a function of all the moving parts involved. But it’s also a reflection of the enormous potential of programmable networks. There are so many possible use cases, so many ways that NFV can transform business models, that new innovations are bubbling up from across the industry almost every day.
It doesn’t make sense for one vendor to try to create a closed, vertically integrated NFV stack. Instead, the keys to unlocking NFV transformation are multivendor integration and interoperability. This is especially true for communication service providers (CSPs), who need to balance their desire for NFV innovation with the requirements of delivering high-performance, carrier-grade services.
It’s in this context that ecosystems become so important. Recently, I joined Intel’s Lynn Comp at SDxCentral to discuss two of the biggest NFV ecosystems in the industry: the HPE OpenNFV Partner program and Intel Network Builders. We talked about the value of openness and open-source in advancing NFV, and the ways our open ecosystems are helping CSPs accelerate the transformation of their networks.
Here at HPE, we’re very excited about our OpenNFV program, which provides NFV reference architectures for operator environments, and pretested and validated NFV solutions from a wide range of vendors. We’re giving operators a carrier-grade foundation for programmable infrastructure, so that anyone—telecom suppliers, network equipment providers, independent software vendors—can test and integrate multivendor NFV solutions for their networks.
Naturally, openness and open-source are central to this effort. Here are some of the highlights:
- OpenNFV Partner ecosystem: We’ve created a vibrant and growing ecosystem of over 85 partners, with more added all the time. This includes partners like Intel, which provide technologies that are deeply integrated with our open NFV software stack. It also includes dozens of partners providing virtualized network functions (VNFs) and applications, as well as system integrators specializing in NFV implementation.
- OpenNFV Labs: Our global footprint of labs performs testing and PoCs for a wide range of VNF use cases, and allows partners to pre-test and validate their solutions on our NFV reference architecture. Partners can demonstrate to operators that they can meet strict carrier-grade network requirements. At the same time, operators can significantly reduce the time it usually takes to test and deploy new third-party solutions in their networks.
- Ongoing commitment to open-source: We recognize how important open-source communities and standardization are to broad NFV adoption. HPE has been making major contributions to open-source and open standards for years. We are a founding Platinum member of the OpenStack Foundation, and have contributed more code and dedicated engineers to OpenStack than anyone else. We are also a Platinum member of OpenDaylight foundation for open-source SDN platform and have been contributing since the first release.
Intel Network Builders
Our partner, Intel, has been with us throughout this journey and also views NFV as a platform to truly transform the way operators deliver services. Lynn Comp described Intel’s own contributions to the open-source community, including bringing the benefits of NFV innovation (such as hardware and software acceleration across the network infrastructure) to a global community of engineers. Intel has also been a longtime contributor to open-source and standardization efforts, and is working with vendors across the industry to create carrier-grade, open-source NFV stacks.
Central to this effort is the Intel Network Builders Program. Now encompassing more than 200 partners, this open ecosystem is creating best-of-breed NFV building blocks that allow operators to capitalize on programmable infrastructure solutions faster, with less development effort and more interoperability. Today, Intel is collaborating with HPE on a range of NFV PoCs, demonstrating that operators can deploy programmable solutions with carrier-grade service assurance and security.
HPE and Intel share a similar vision of the potential of NFV for CSPs, and what needs to happen to make that vision a reality. Together, we are:
- Investing significant resources into NFV thought leadership and innovation for operator environments
- Jointly driving benchmarking of NFV components, since this is entirely new territory, and the old benchmarks no longer apply
- Embracing open-source to draw on a global knowledge base, avoid duplicated effort, and move the industry to new ways of doing business faster
- Committing to interoperability, open standards, and open interfaces as the right way to unlock CSP network transformation
There’s a reason why two of the biggest names in the industry, HPE and Intel, are both building vibrant, open NFV ecosystems. We recognize that no single vendor can be best-in-class for all programmable network capabilities. Real transformation requires partnerships. By working together, and with our partners around the world, we’re delivering better results for operators and their customers.
For more details on HPE’s and Intel’s open NFV ecosystems, watch our SDxCentral webinar.