THE HAGUE -- SDN NFV World Congress -- Orange has finished defining its "target architecture" for more virtualized and software-based networks and will embark on a rollout in Spain in the next few months.
The French operator, which maintains networks in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has already carried out some virtualization trials and since last year has been offering on-demand services based on virtualization technology to some of its enterprise customers, under the EasyGo brand. (See Orange Kicks Off 'Universal CPE' Trials and Orange Plots Mass Network-as-a-Service Rollout.)
But Orange (NYSE: FTE) says it has now taken a firm decision on the suppliers and technologies it wants to use across its entire footprint and will start work on an "industrial mode" rollout imminently.
"The first step was to define -- the next is to deploy across all our affiliates, starting in Europe but going soon also into the EMEA [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] zone," said Emmanuel Bidet, the vice president of convergent networks control for Orange, during a keynote presentation at today's SDN NFV World Congress in The Hague.
Building on its experiences with EasyGo and during other trials, Orange says the multinational deployment will rely on Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) for OpenStack deployment, the Contrail solution from Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) for the SDN controller and hardware provided by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Dell Networking .
Bidet says Orange is confident that with this setup it will be able to onboard virtual network functions (VNFs) from a variety of different vendors.
"We are now going to deploy this target infrastructure and the first country we will start in will be Spain," said Bidet.
Orange already has a point of presence (PoP) in Europe that supports its target architecture but will add another one next year under its latest deployment plans. It is also now working on the sourcing of VNFs and aims to introduce a virtual evolved packet core (vEPC) function into its network in the coming months. "We launched an RFP [request for proposals] earlier this year and will make a decision before the end of the year," said Bidet.
The French operator has prioritized the virtualization of the EPC function largely because of traffic demands on its network, but also reckons this could help to support very specific needs, such as providing service improvements in particular hotspots.
Bidet said EasyGo would get new features under the latest program and be extended into additional markets. Having so far been aimed at large enterprise customers, EasyGo will also be made available to small and medium-sized enterprises.
From an internal perspective, Orange has been centralizing some of its operations and now maintains just one network operations center (or NOC) for all of its European markets besides France. Another NOC caters to all of its markets in the Middle East and Africa, said Bidet.
He also highlighted the importance of open source technology to Orange's broader transformation efforts. "Open source can help the ecosystem to migrate and with interoperability," he explained.
Orange appears to have taken a proactive role in OPNFV, an open source NFV infrastructure initiative, and is also one of the main players in ONAP, a management and network orchestration (MANO) effort led by AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T).
ONAP faces competition from another MANO initiative called Open Source MANO (OSM), which is sponsored by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and counts Telefónica and BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) as operator members.
Industry concern is growing that ONAP and OSM may fail to reach agreement on common information models, making it harder for developers to write the code that allows one company's systems to be used alongside or in place of another's.
— Iain Morris, News Editor, Light Reading