Nokia Nails Our NFV Performance Tests

The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.

Steve Saunders, Founder, Light Reading

May 16, 2016

3 Min Read
Nokia Nails Our NFV Performance Tests

Light Reading recently commissioned the industry's first independent tests of Nokia's virtual routing functions and published the results in two detailed reports. (See Evaluating Nokia's VNFs: Part 2 and Validating Nokia's IP Routing & Mobile Gateway VNFs.)

As public independent tests go, it doesn't get any bigger than this.

That's because the Virtualized Service Router (VSR) and Virtualized Mobile Gateway (VMG) that we paid test lab European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) to evaluate weren't made by diminutive Finnish elves. They were originally designed and built at the IP & Optical division of Alcatel-Lucent and were one of the key reasons Nokia paid about $17 billion to buy AlcaLu earlier this year. (See Finn de Siècle for Alcatel-Lucent.)

To say that there was a lot at stake doesn't do this test justice.

For Nokia, anything less than a tip top performance by the AlcaLu products would mean not only that it was guilty of overpaying by a record amount, but would also spell the end of its chances of reinventing itself as a player in the 21st century communications market, one with a hope of competing with the "Big Three" virtualization houses -- Cisco, Ericsson and Huawei.

For service providers, this was the chance to find out whether one of the biggest communications suppliers in the world has successfully migrated the most critical routing functions in their networks from expensive silicon hardware to agile, affordable virtualized software, without causing a performance trade off that will bog down their networks and their customers’ services -- a fatal network error.

The good news is that, in the words of EANTC's Managing Director, Carsten Rossenhoevel, Nokia's VNFs "passed with flying colors across a variety of scenarios," including performance. And not just in the core of the network, but also out at the edge, testing the functions that are required for last-mile residential services such as triple play.

The raw numbers achieved in the Light Reading test are amazing: The Virtualized Service Router (VSR) for virtual Provider Edge (VSR-PE) achieved throughput of 57.5 million packets per second across a single-socket Intel Xeon Haswell CPU; It also showed the ability to recover from a single compute node failure within 1.7 milliseconds. But what's even more mind-blowing is just what that kind of performance enables service providers to do, in terms of quickly creating and deploying profitable new services in a virtualized environment, including IoT and consumer services.

If you haven't yet had a chance to check out the full test report, I encourage you to do so. If you're a service provider looking to create an NFV migration strategy, I would suggest these reports are quite simply essential reading.

Light Reading has been on quite a roll with NFV testing recently. We also recently published an evaluation report focused on Cisco's virtualized and hybrid network security systems and our first test of virtualization products from ADVA. Those were in addition to the ground-breaking, multi-vendor NFV interoperability test report that debuted in December 2015. (See Validating ADVA's Virtual Switch, Validating Cisco's Threat-Centric Security Solutions and EXCLUSIVE! NFV Interop Evaluation Results.)

At a time when there is both so much uncertainty around NFV, combined with unprecedented pressure on service providers to deploy virtualization capabilities this year, it's fantastic to see major players such as Cisco, ADVA and Nokia stepping up to prove that their products will work in 21st century networks.

This trend continues live at our Big Communications Event (BCE) next week on May 24 and May 25 in Austin, when Light Reading will partner with the The New IP Agency and EANTC to put on the world's first live multi-vendor interoperability showcase of NFV service chaining capabilities, with participation from more than ten companies. (See BCE 2016: Live NFV Interop Demo Takes Center Stage.)

I hope to see you there!

— Stephen Saunders, Founder and CEO, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Steve Saunders

Founder, Light Reading

Steve Saunders is the Founder of Light Reading.

He was previously the Managing Director of UBM DeusM, an integrated marketing services division of UBM, which has successfully launched 45 online communities in less than three years.

DeusM communities are based on Saunders' vision for a structured system of community publishing, one which creates unprecedented engagement among highly qualified business users. Based on the success of the first dozen UBM DeusM communities, the UBM Tech division in 2013 made the decision to move its online business to the UBM DeusM community platform – including 20 year old flagship brands such as Information Week and EE Times.

Saunders' next mission for UBM is the development of UBM's Integrated Community Business Model (ICBM), a publishing system designed to take advantage of, and build upon, UBM's competitive strengths as a leading provider of live events around the globe. The model is designed to extend the ability of UBM's events to generate revenue 365 days of the year by contextually integrating content from community and event sites, and directories, to drive bigger audiences to all three platforms, and thereby create additional value for customers. In turn, these amplified audiences will allow business leaders to grow both revenues and profits through higher directory fees and online sponsorship. The ICBM concept is currently being discussed with a broad group of business leaders across UBM, and is earmarked to be piloted in the second half of 2013 and early 2014.

UBM DeusM is Saunders' fifth successful start-up. In 2008, he founded Internet Evolution (, a ground-breaking, award-winning, global online community dedicated to investigating the future of the Internet, now in its fifth year.

Prior to Internet Evolution, Saunders was the founder and CEO of Light Reading (, Heavy Reading (

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