Ericsson Cloud Blossoms, as Telstra NFV Goes Live

Craig Matsumoto

Ericsson reportedly has a second major carrier going live with cloud and NFV infrastructure, but the company snaring bragging rights out of the deal is SDN startup Pluribus.

Pluribus Networks officials say Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) has gone live in two locations with the Ericsson Cloud offering, which includes the HDS 8000 rack-scale server architecture based on Intel hardware. Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Telstra had announced the deal last year. (See Telstra Deploys Ericsson's Telecom Cloud.)

Details are scarce; Pluribus is only saying so much, and Ericsson and Telstra have not returned queries for comment. But this appears to be the live deployment of a virtualized evolved packet core (vEPC) and virtualized IMS (vIMS) running on NFV -- the OPNFV reference architecture, specifically. (See Telstra Deploys Ericsson's Telecom Cloud.)

It's a limited live deployment so far: two locations, with more to come.

The news comes on the heels of Ericsson's live deployment with Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM), a similar deal making use of NFV and the HDS 8000. That deployment, announced in early 2016, went live earlier this month. (See Swisscom Picks Ericsson for Telco Cloud, NFV.)

SDN 2.0
Both deployments are nice prizes for Ericsson, but they're an even bigger boost for Pluribus, the SDN startup with software that handles networking inside the HDS 8000.

Ericsson Cloud doesn't have to run on Pluribus, but the startup is commonly a part of these NFV-related deals. The result has been a "resurgence" for Pluribus, as analyst Scott Raynovich of Futurium notes.

Pluribus was an early SDN entrant developing a combination of software and converged hardware. The company has since pivoted to chase the trend of disaggregation. It provides only software, the networking OS that creates a network fabric on bare metal switches -- in this case, the fixed-format switches that are inside the HDS 8000. Pluribus would be responsible for the connections that create network slicing in the Swisscom and Telstra deployments, for instance.

"We are the network. It is our hardware, but it's the Netvisor software that makes all of this work," said Steve Shalita, Pluribus vice president of marketing and business development, in an interview with Light Reading earlier this month.

Pluribus claims to be part of several publicly announced Ericsson deployments, including the SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) deal announced mid-2015. (See SKT Adopts Ericsson's Telco Cloud Platform .)

That creates some potential awkwardness in Ericsson's partnership with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), as Raynovich points out. Both companies have throttled back on the partnership, which is morphing to incorporate different kinds of Cisco products. (See Cisco & Ericsson Hone Their Partnership.)

Cisco might not be a good fit for the bare-metal nature of the HDS 8000 anyway. "Cisco would go in with ACI, which is controller-based. We're not a controller," Shalita said.

— Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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