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Verizon Using Ericsson Platform to Orchestrate Virtual Services

Carol Wilson
2/21/2017
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Verizon Enterprise Solutions' choice of Ericsson to provide the underlying orchestration platform for its managed services portfolio is a reflection of the industry's progress -- and lack of same -- on defining end-to-end service orchestration in virtualized networks, says a top Verizon executive.

In an interview with Light Reading, Shawn Hakl, vice president of Networking and Security Solutions for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, admits he would have preferred to avoid deploying an over-arching vendor orchestration solution but found it impossible to do so, given the current maturity level of industry standards and service definitions.

"I was very disappointed that I had to do it, but I did," he admits. That realization came when VES, the business services arm of Verizon moved to launch a broader catalog of virtual managed services, beyond its initial software-defined wide-area networking service, which uses Viptela Inc. and Cisco gear and SevOne Inc. software. (See Verizon Turns to SevOne for SD-WAN Visibility, Verizon, Cisco Launch Smarter WAN and Verizon Launches Virtual Network Services.)

"Each of those came with their own management structure, because there is not good differentiation between the orchestration layer, the management layer and the controller layer today," he says. "We need the ability to provision complex service chains and we ended up working with Ericsson to create that ability across multiple vendors."

Basically, that means Ericsson provides the broader end-to-end orchestration capabilities that interacts with domain-specific solutions with other vendors. "I have a series of application vendors, each of whom break up their software packages for me to mix and match, then I have Ericsson blending all of that and then providing the end-to-end ecosystem," Hakl comments.


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There is considerable Verizon customization of the Ericsson platform, he adds, in the form of its own software and intellectual property wrapped around what Ericsson is providing. In addition, Verizon remains committed to supporting the applications programming interfaces and other definitions/interfaces that come out of open source projects, as the industry accepts them. In fact, the company will be a leader in some of those efforts such as the MEF Lifecycle Service Orchestration initiative, Hakl promises.

"Anything that sets it up so we have easier communication [and] I have complete end-to-end visibility, and [can] provide a more positive end user experience and reduce friction in the deployment of those services, then it's to everyone's advantage to do that and we will," he says.

So while, for example, the ECOMP open source effort is not something Verizon will necessarily join, it will adopt common definitions and APIs that come out of that effort and others, where those make sense, he says. "I have no interest in setting up competing APIs."

Hakl says Verizon's work with Ericsson doesn't really amount to vendor lock-in, because the service provider can add other vendors' innovative products at the domain level -- which it already is doing with Viptela and Cisco. And the software is running on open hardware platforms -- something Verizon will be expanding.

"But it is a pretty big investment in Ericsson -- it would be pretty difficult to displace" on end-to-end orchestration, he admits.

Verizon chose Ericsson because of its successful execution on previous products and also the comprehensiveness of the proposal and the way it aligned with what Verizon needed. "Other folks had prettier Power Points but they had prettier code," Hakl says.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading


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Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
2/21/2017 | 4:30:29 PM
Re: Layer cake
I think the layers are easily distinguished in Power Point presentations but less so in the real world. The industry hope was to break things down into component parts that could be assembled as needed - but pulling that all back together and making it work on an end-to-end basis is still a challenge. 
msilbey
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msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
2/21/2017 | 4:18:58 PM
Layer cake
I'm glad to hear someone admit there's "not good differentiation between the orchestration layer, the management layer and the controller layer today," I have a hard time as an outsider looking in distinguishing where each layer ends. Good to know it's equally difficult from the inside. 
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