NFV (Network functions virtualization)

ADVA Gets Real About Virtualization

PARIS -- MPLS SDN World Congress -- ADVA is set to add several network interface devices to its FSP 150 Carrier Ethernet portfolio for service providers that are looking to benefit from the rollout of NFV technology.

The first product announcement is expected in "only a few weeks," according to the optical networking vendor, which claims to be in discussions with a number of service providers about its new NFV strategy.

ADVA Optical Networking is showing off its capabilities at this week's MPLS SDN show in Paris, where visitors to its stand can see a demonstration of NFV-based routing and firewalling carried out in partnership with Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP), major players in the virtualization area.

Representatives from ADVA showed Light Reading how routing, firewalling and security could all be controlled by means of a straightforward graphical user interface.

"Assume an enterprise with hundreds of sites wants to get additional WAN [wide area networking] optimization from its service provider," says Ulrich Kohn, the director of technical marketing for ADVA. "Today this requires more hardware installation and integration and means you have to send technicians out to hundreds of sites, but with NFV it could be done at the push of a button."

Kohn says that moving capabilities deeper into the network could free up server capacity at the edge and help operators to realize major economies of scale, although he acknowledges that some latency-critical functions "cannot be centralized" in that way.

"Some operators also argue that if they do it at the edge they will not have to significantly change all their processes, but the market hasn't really decided which way to go and we need to cater for all demands," he tells Light Reading.

For more NFV-related coverage and insights, check out our dedicated NFV content channel here on Light Reading.

ADVA is playing in an increasingly busy NFV marketplace but Kohn insists it can stand out from the crowd. "We've been an early innovator in performance management and brought that into the Ethernet world," he says. "Our strengths in security and programmability will also complement the NFV strategy."

Indeed, ADVA claims to be the only vendor in the industry adding the necessary security and optimization features for core hosting.

Clearly, the move to a "software-centric model" -- as ADVA describes it -- will also bring challenges for companies that have previously flourished as purveyors of hardware, but Kohn says hardware is not going to disappear just because SDN and virtualization are gaining traction.

"Software doesn't replace hardware," he says. "It's almost the other way round, in fact, and there is an interesting case for differentiating by having optimized physical network functions complementing virtualized functions. It will not be possible to virtualize everything."

ADVA also points out that its NFV strategy is based on "openness" and that customers will be able to use its services in conjunction with those from other players.

"We're opposed to binding customers with proprietary network integration interfaces," said Stephan Rettenberger, VP of marketing for ADVA, in a statement. "Ultimately it's commitment to openness and flexibility in server location that has driven our entire NFV process."

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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