Dell, HP keep moving to help carriers virtualise their networks

Both companies stand to gain if network functions virtualization upends traditional carrier systems

The next frontier for virtualisation and standard x86 servers is in service-provider networks, and big computing vendors are moving fast to blaze the trail there.

Network functions virtualisation (NFV) is designed to move the back-end processing in carrier networks from dedicated appliances to software that can run across a virtual computing infrastructure. That should mean faster development and deployment of new services for subscribers, plus lower network costs.

NFV is likely to open up carriers' networks to services developed by a broad range of companies, including startups, and could help the carriers compete against Internet companies such as Skype and Google that deliver services over the top of those networks.

But carriers can't move overnight from their entrenched architectures to NFV, and new virtualised network functions for these platforms are just now under development. So Hewlett-Packard and Dell have announced progress toward making a variety of software available to carriers.

HP gave more details about the HP OpenNFV Program it announced in February at Mobile World Congress. The program is up and running now, validating applications from more than 100 software vendors to ensure they can run properly in a virtualised environment and have the kind of reliability carriers demand, said Werner Schaefer, vice-president of HP's NFV business.

That testing involves a reference architecture that HP developed with technology vendors including Intel, Mellanox Technologies, Brocade, SK Telecom and testing vendor Spirent. By including some components that compete with HP's own products such as Brocade virtual service routers, the OpenNFV Program offers carriers a choice, Schaefer said.

"The overall aim of our OpenNFV program is to accelerate the adoption of NFV," he said.

Carriers are exploring NFV in part to save money, so they don't want to invest the time and money to test and validate a long list of virtualised services to run on their networks, Schaefer said. That's where HP's program comes in.

HP has set up labs for OpenNFV Program testing in Houston, Fort Collins, Colorado, and Grenoble, France. It's now joined with partners to open two more labs outside the US, one in Tel Aviv with the Israel Mobile & Media Association, and one in Seoul with SK Telecom. An initial catalog of validated applications should become available within six to eight months, Schaefer said.

Dell also announced its first NFV platform. It's built around Dell servers, storage, networking and software, which can be combined with software from partners. Dell says it's open to working with any vendor that wants to deliver its software on Dell's systems, rather than validating specific software for use with the platform.

Given the early stage of NFV adoption, Dell introduced two starter kits as scaled-down versions of the overall platform that service provider can use for experimentation and proofs of concept. One configuration is based on Dell's PowerEdge R630 1RU rack-mounted servers, and the other on the M1000e blade chassis and new M630 compute blades.

Dell announced a partnership with Red Hat earlier this year to develop NFV and SDN (software-defined networking) applications based on Red Hat's version of the OpenStack open-source cloud platform. That relationship continues, but Red Hat's isn't the only operating system that will be able to run on top of Dell's NFV system, said Jeffrey Baher, head of product and solutions marketing for Dell Networking.

"The goal of the platform is to be able to accept as many different combinations as possible that would sit north of this infrastructure platform offering," Baher said.

The Dell NFV platform and starter kits are available worldwide through Dell and its local sales channels.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags DelltelecommunicationNetworkingHewlett-Packard

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?