Nokia Upgrades NFVi for Edge, Containers

Nokia today introduced an updated version of its NFV infrastructure platform that will, for the first time, directly source OpenStack from its open source community instead of using a RedHat version, with the intent of getting features and fixes to market faster. Also, the latest version supports a smaller footprint that will enable edge computing and adds in container management using Kubernetes.

The Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) Cloudband Infrastructure Software, which includes an integrated network function virtualization infrastructure and virtualized infrastructure manager, or NFVi/VIM, is intended to help communications service providers create a cloud-native architecture and stop deploying virtual network functions in product silos, as many early deployments have been done, says Dan McBride, Nokia software marketing director, in addition to providing improved security. (See Nokia Counts on CloudBand Boost and Nokia Takes NFV Cloud-Native.)

"From an operational standpoint, we have simplified the horizontal breadth we can cover with a single infrastructure management element like CBIS from the core of the network, or IT, to the edge, then we have bundled together the management in OpenStack for virtual machine-based cloud infrastructure with Kubernetes for container-based infrastructure," he comments in an interview.

The CBIS 19 release comes after Nokia has had a solid two years of experience in the field, with an installed base now of 88 customers, McBride says. The vendor has learned to assist its customers in filling in for what the open source community hasn't provided, he adds, to make OpenStack a commercially deployable product.

"One of the things that has resulted from that is that we are now moving upstream from commercial distributions of the OpenStack community project and taking the software from the community directly," McBride tells Light Reading. "So OpenStack in CBIS 19 moving forward is the open source community version, not the RedHat version and what we are doing in the process is cutting out six months or more of the time it takes for fixes and new features to get into the hands of our customers."

The Nokia exec is careful to state that any contributions, modifications and fixes to OpenStack are made to the community code base first so that all OpenStack community members benefit. But now, instead of waiting for Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) to first incorporate those changes in its release, Nokia will be making them directly, so it can fix things or add things immediately after upstreaming them. The RedHat licensing fee is also eliminated.

That doesn't increase vendor lock-in, McBride says.

"A customer’s degree of freedom is effectively limited once they adopt anyone’s OpenStack release, whether it's RedHat, Mirantis, Canonical, Nokia, etc.," he states. Every vendor develops "management tools and processes that surround the other open source elements included," as well as, in the case of CBIS, security elements, and a pre-integrated SDN controller as part of the supported bundle.

"So, replacing the OpenStack components from one vendor’s bundle with the OpenStack from another is possible, [but] the OPEX benefit to the customer of the bundle is greatly reduced," he explained. "Unless the customer has the resources to do all the integration, the hardening, and the commercialization of the OpenStack software, it could become cost prohibitive to get a functioning cloud environment. Here, the bundle of experience, tools, and proprietary elements that sit on top, is what the customer is buying."

CBIS users aren't limited in their choice of VNFs from other vendors or from using other vendor elements in the management and network orchestration (MANO) stack running above the NFI-I/VIM layer, McBride says.

Roz Roseboro, principal analyst, cloud infrastructure and management for Heavy Reading, says Nokia's direct consumption of OpenStack is interesting, if not earth-shattering.

"I wouldn't say it's a huge deal, it's more interesting because it means Nokia feels it has the skill sets and internal processes to be able to manage the code itself," Roseboro comments. "It could be a sign that OpenStack itself is getting easier to work with -- something that wasn't the case at the start."

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CBIS 19 enables a smaller footprint, more suited to edge compute including cloud-based radio access networks (CloudRAN), McBride says. Its incorporation of Kubernetes will help CSPs avoid creating new silos around container management, he adds.

CBIS 19 also features security hardening against known threats to OpenStack, Linux and other cloud environments, as well as regional security requirements using a CBIS Manager point and click process that insures a secure cloud environment.

T-Mobile, StarHub and BSNL are among the announced CBIS customers.

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

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