Chinese equipment vendor ZTE has thrown its considerable weight behind the New IP Agency (NIA), a not-for-profit initiative aimed at fostering the development of virtualized IP networks based on open-access principles.
Joining the fast-growing ranks of the The New IP Agency , ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) is set to participate in a forthcoming round of interoperability testing conducted by the European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) , which has already tested NFV infrastructure (NFVi) technology from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), as well as virtual network functions (VNFs) from numerous other vendors, for the NIA. (See Light Reading Publishes Unique NFV Interoperability Test Report and EXCLUSIVE! NFV Interop Evaluation Results.)
Interoperability has emerged as arguably the biggest concern among operators moving into a virtualized network environment, with the world's biggest service providers eager to use products from a number of different vendors and avoid being tied to one supplier's technology.
ZTE will submit a number of virtualized solutions for EANTC testing, including a vEPC, vIMS and vUDC (virtual user data consolidation), as well as a carrier-class infrastructure-as-a-service platform it calls the Tulip Elastic Computing System (or TECS).
Its main objective is to ensure the various technologies will function with and alongside NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and virtual network functions (VNFs) from other vendors.
"An open ecosystem and multivendor environment is the most important factor for the success of NFV technology, and also for ZTE's VNF/NFVi products," says Liu Jianhua, the CEO of ZTE's core network business. "We are glad to join the NIA and participate in the upcoming interoperability evaluations."
The remarks come shortly after Jane Chen, ZTE's chief strategy officer, told Light Reading that operators would need to work with multiple vendors in the long term to realize the "true benefits" of NFV.
"That is when the operator experiences better service, gets more ideas, more thinking," she said during an interview with Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders. (See CEO Chat With ZTE's Jane Chen.)
Working with the EANTC, the NIA is due to begin tests under Phase 1B of its program, which will run from mid-March to the end of May and address NFVi-VNF interoperability. Over the same period, Phase 2A testing will look specifically at VNF management. (See NIA's Latest NFV Test Program Opens for Business .)
The latest tests look set to attract interest from the vendors that last year participated in Phase 1A of the program, which was designed to provide a basic interoperability evaluation. (See EXCLUSIVE! NFV Interop Evaluation Results.)
However, the NIA has indicated that more NFVi vendors are set to join the initiative and expects to unveil details of at least one other significant new member next week.
A spokesperson for the NIA said the focus of the Phase 2A tests would be on interoperability between an NFVi and a VNF Manager (VNFM) that is actually managing a VNF. (See NIA Phase 2 Test: VNF Management.)
These tests should, therefore, hold particular interest for companies offering both VNFs and a VNFM. Vendors with generic VNFMs are welcome to participate in Phase 2A testing provided they have a VNF partner.
The NIA membership list now includes many of the world's most important NFV suppliers and organizations, including Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN), ADVA Optical Networking , Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN), Cisco, Dorado Software Inc. , EANTC, Gigamon Systems LLC , Huawei, IneoQuest Technologies Inc. , Juniper, Metaswitch Networks , Mitel Networks Corp. , NetNumber Inc. , Nokia, Procera Networks , Sonus Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SONS), UBiqube Plc and ZTE.
Service providers that are supporting the NIA include Boingo Wireless Inc. , Bright House Networks , Cox Communications Inc. , Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and XO Communications Inc. , which was recently acquired by Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) in a $1.8 billion deal. (See Verizon Bags XO for $1.8B.)
Announced last June, during Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in Chicago, the NIA had its official launch in January and says its mission is to reduce confusion and aid service providers' transition to virtualized networks. (See New IP Agency Launches With Massive Industry Support.)
"In a world built on open standards and open source, testing and integration remains a major effort," said Axel Clauberg, the vice president of aggregation, transport, IP and fixed access for Deutsche Telekom, on the organization's launch. "An independent entity like the NIA driving this can deliver huge value to us as network operators and our vendors."
Other service providers at the forefront of NFV, including Colt, have also highlighted the importance of the NIA's NFV evaluation. (See Colt Lauds NIA's NFV Evaluation.)
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading