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Overture Adds Hardware to Its NFV Pitch

Mitch Wagner
6/11/2014
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Overture is extending its existing NFV proposition with a new product designed to combine the benefits of virtualized functions with dedicated hardware located at the customer premises.

That proposition might at first seem counter-intuitive, but it's akin to the "Distributed NFV" approach already under consideration by several service providers and being championed by another established and respected vendor, RAD. (See Two Faces of Distributed NFV and ESDN: RAD Rolls Out Distributed NFV Strategy.)

The 65 Virtual Service Edge (65vSE), which will be unveiled at the Big Telecom Event (June 17-18), is a programmable platform designed to be deployed on the network edge and then modified in software to deliver and reconfigure new services, rather than having to roll a truck to customer premises every time the customer needs a change, according to Overture Networks Inc.

The 65vSE is a departure from the pure model of NFV, in which network functions are entirely virtualized and run on a cloud in the data center, eliminating the need to install dedicated hardware appliances on customer premises and other remote locations. The 65vSE still requires carriers to install equipment on customer premises, so an initial visit by a technician is still required.

Carriers have to install some kind of hardware on customer premises just to activate services, says Overture VP marketing Mark Durrett. When the carrier installs managed services, that previously required rolling another truck out to the customer premises to install another appliance -- and again and again for additional services. With the 65vSE, the carrier only has to install a device once, with further configuration and service additions managed remotely. Indeed, the carrier can sometimes ship the 65vSE to the customer premises and avoid the need to send out a technician at all.

"The idea is to collapse many different boxes that are today deployed on the customer prem into a single system using software functions, as opposed to physical hardware boxes you would stack on a customer prem," says Durrett.

The technology allows service providers to deploy on-demand applications instantly at customer premises to simplify operations and promote innovation, Overture says.

"You are simplifying what's on the customer prem and giving the operator the ability to provide incremental, on-demand services," says Prayson Pate, Overture CTO and senior VP engineering. He compares the 65vSE to a smartphone; once the customer has the phone, the customer or carrier can add additional services remotely, over software. As with smartphones, some of those upgrades will come from the carrier or manufacturer, and others will be delivered by third parties. The 65vSE runs third-party software.

The 65vSE uses Overture's Ensemble Open Service Architecture, Overture's centralized model for hosting virtual network functions in data centers, points of presence, and central offices. The 65vSE provides carriers with another choice in network architecture. (See Overture Trials NFV Software With Hidden Punch.)

The 65vSE is currently in proof-of-concept and trials with customers, and will be generally available at the end of the year.

Overture will demonstrate the 65vSE in a managed virtual enterprise CPE application at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to wagner@lightreading.com.

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