Carrier SDN

NFV, SDN Changing Operators' Policy Picks

The operators' shift to virtualized infrastructure is putting new demands on their infrastructure vendors, and it's the ones with the best Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) tools that will survive. According to new research from Heavy Reading , the vendors that will be the most successful with virtualization will be the ones that can deliver deep packet inspection (DPI), policy management, and analytics that achieve 100 Gbit/s performance in virtualized environments, including software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). (See Virtualization Drive for DPI & Policy Management.)

Heavy Reading analyst and report author Simon Stanley says that the discussion around SDN and NFV has changed operators' expectations of their vendors. While policy management and analytics have long been core requirements, now they are looking for solutions that deliver the benefits promised by SDN and NFV, i.e., programmability, lower costs, and improved efficiencies. (See Policy Is NFV's Pacesetter.)

As such, policy management platforms that run independent of the core network infrastructure no longer cut it. Network operators are looking for integrated solutions in which DPI and policy management runs on virtualized hardware.

Achieving 100 Gbit/s performance is still a significant challenge, even with dedicated hardware, Stanley says. When policy management and analytics move into an SDN or NFV environment to work with virtual switches and servers running on standardized hardware, there are considerable additional processing requirements, which means it remains a significant challenge, he says.

The good news is the vendor community, which includes big policy players like Allot Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALLT) and Procera Networks , chipmakers like Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), and software players like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), is already responding to the changing dynamics. Stanley says many have shifted to offer software solutions that run on any multicore processor, so an operator can choose the policy management software and run it on the hardware that best fits with the operator's network infrastructure. (See Allot Goes Deep in Big-Data Analytics Game, Procera Virtualizes Policy Management, MW13: Amdocs Embraces Virtualization, and Policy Control: Preparing for a Virtual Makeover?.)

He says that the key message that came from his research is that vendors are already taking significant steps towards using virtualized platforms. When the operators are ready to take the plunge into virtualization, it's likely they'll have a number of partners to choose from.

"Much of the new developments are focused on accelerating virtual implementations and providing solutions that will run on virtual platforms or dedicated hardware," he says. "This will allow operators to deploy policy management and analytics solutions that deliver 100 Gbit/s performance and can be migrated to SDN and NFV environments where required."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

DOShea 12/31/2013 | 4:52:24 PM
Re: Vendor battles For some of the traditional hardware vendors, when to virtualize is a tough decision, but nothing motivates like a ready buyer.
Sarah Thomas 12/27/2013 | 9:30:44 AM
Vendor battles Operators really will have a number of partners to choose from, and I think the battle lines will be drawn between big vendors that do it all and those that are dedicated policy players. Their ability to move to software will be one deciding factor for the winner.
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