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Vendors Catch NFV Fever

Ray Le Maistre

If there's any industry trend hotter than network functions virtualization (NFV) right now, wrap it in a virtual box and send it across the ether to me now, please, marked 'HYPEFEST!'

Right now, NFV is the acronym seemingly atop everyone's R&D and marketing list, and only days before the 2014 Mobile World Congress begins, it's even hotter than LTE.

So who's doing what? Here's what came down the pipe today with some additional commentary.

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) made its big NFV move today, announcing the virtualization of a number of mobile infrastructure elements ahead of the Mobile World Congress. AlcaLu got out of the blocks early in terms of virtualization and cloud service enablement with its Cloudband system, which was on show two years ago at the MWC. Now that, plus the work at its Nuage Networks unit, appears to be paying off. (See Alcatel-Lucent Lays Out Its NFV Plans and China Mobile, Alcatel-Lucent to Demo NFV at MWC14 .)

Meanwhile, Heavy Reading chief analyst Graham Finnie is heading to the MWC to find out when (rather than if) NFV gets introduced into carrier networks in a meaningful way. The timelines could get shorter during the next week. (See Where Are We With NFV?)

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has announced its Cloud Edge solution, designed to help mobile operators introduce NFV to their networks. It includes virtualized evolved packet core functions, virtual routing, charging, and traffic optimization capabilities (all wrapped up in the vendor's Multi-Service Engine) and virtual network management and orchestration tools. Huawei says this is part of its SoftCOM strategy, which has expanded from being focused on SDN to encompassing NFV and cloud services enablement in general. It seems like Huawei's virtualization strategy is in flux right now. The company says it has a lot going on with major carriers in terms of NFV -- let's see if any of them show their hand at the MWC and provide a bit more clarity.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has advanced its virtualization strategy with the introduction of its Evolved Services Platform (ESP), which supports virtual functions and hosted services. Cisco knows it's in a strong position with its customer base, and it is pushing out more and more new functionality to keep that customer base on board. It says a number of operators are using "aspects" of the ESP to transform their networks. Does that mean they're running an ESPN? This column needed some sports talk. (See Cisco Cloud DVR Emerges.)

Sandvine Inc. (London: SAND; Toronto: SVC) announced that its virtualized Policy Traffic Switch -- essentially a policy enforcement/packet inspection engine on steroids -- has been deployed by an outfit called ClearSky Technologies, which provides hosted/managed services to mobile service providers. So Sandvine has its virtual appliance in the field, which is a good place to be at this stage of the game.

The embedded software specialist Wind River Systems Inc. is working with HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) to bring together their various strengths -- Wind River's "optimized" KVM hypervisor and HP's server hardware -- to deliver a hardware and software package designed especially for NFV deployments. This is the sort of partnership that is likely to attract some real attention as carriers start to move from the lab and into field trial mode for NFV.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
2/19/2014 | 4:51:20 PM
Re: Stay tuned
Hit it right on the head Ray.  I was just talking to a few folks about this today in regards to certain offers not being "carrier-grade" solutions.  Need to look under the hood for the right fit...and that might not come from any of the big guys in the existing supply chain of the operators.
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
2/19/2014 | 4:07:21 PM
Stay tuned
You've certainly hit the highlights but wait! There's more to come tomorrow. 

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