ConteXtream gives service providers the ability to configure networks with watchmaker precision, which was key to HP's decision to acquire the SDN company, says Saar Gillai, SVP and GM of NFV for HP.
Specifically, ConteXtream offers carriers the ability to identify and manage flows on a per-subscriber basis, Gillai told Light Reading. That granularity enables service chaining, an important piece of NFV.
"Telcos are trying to have differentiation on services for different subscribers based on what the subscriber requires," Gillai says. ConteXtream enables that. "They have a carrier-grade SDN capability that can handle subscriber-level granularity of management."
For example, a subscriber viewing a video stream might require video optimization, firewall and traffic optimization. A subscriber who is a child might get all those things plus parental controls. Yet another subscriber needs to see ads, and so must have an ad service in the chain, Gillai says.
"You need dynamic chaining. ConteXtream can do it in real-time on a carrier scale," Gillai says.
HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) said Tuesday it plans to acquire ConteXtream, which is backed by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), to provide an SDN foundation for HP's NFV offerings. The companies have signed an acquisition agreement and HP expects the deal to close in the current third fiscal quarter, which ends July 31. (See HP Acquiring ConteXtream for Carrier SDN.)
Service chaining is a key component of NFV. "That's one part of NFV that people forget -- services have to be chained dynamically, scaled with high resiliency," Gillai says. "That's hard to do and get it right. If you have that capability it gives you strong SDN fabric and that fabric can be used for other applications as well."
HP plans to explore using ConteXtream technology in other areas where network operators will need to steer network traffic at subscriber level, such as in a virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) environment, Gillai says.
Another reason HP found ConteXtream attractive is that ConteXtream is a strong contributor to the OpenDaylight Project, which HP supports at the Platinum level.
ConteXtream's employees will be integrated as a unit into HP's Communications Solutions Business.
ConteXtream likely won't be the last NFV acquisition for HP. "This is an area we're investing in. We're always looking for opportunities and capabilities to add to our technologies," Gillai says.