Hewlett-Packard and F5 Networks are part of a multivendor effort to create a network-functions virtualization proof-of-concept for communications service providers.
The proof-on-concept (PoC)—also developed with Nuage Networks and Telstra, the top telecommunications company in Australia—is built atop of HP's OpenNFV Platform, a collection of software and services launched by the tech vendor in 2014 and designed to enable communications service providers (CSPs) to virtualize much of their core networking environment.
The companies are showing off the ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) PoC #38 this week at the SDN and OpenFlow World Congress event in Germany. It includes the integration of F5's Big-IP networking technologies with HP's NFV Director and Helion CloudSystem for complete life cycle management of virtualized network functions (VNFs), including instantiation, provision, orchestration and service assurances, according to officials with the companies.
In addition, it integrates F5's VNFs with Nuage's Virtual Services Platform to ensure virtualized services are directed through the right traffic paths. According to officials, it also shows how NFV and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies can work together to help carriers more quickly spin out services for their customers and to rapidly scale their networks to meet changing demands. It includes 18 specific use cases.
"No one vendor can provide all the necessary components of NFV," Mallik Tatipamula, vice president of service provider and cloud solutions at F5, said in a statement. "Service providers are looking for vendors that take leadership roles within emerging NFV ecosystems by partnering with other technology companies and standards bodies."
Werner Schaefer, vice president of NFV at HP, said in a statement that "communications service providers place great importance on moving from a proprietary monolithic appliance architecture to an open one."
NFV and SDN are designed to enable enterprises and service providers to create more flexible, programmable and agile networks that can scale to meet the increasing and changing demands on their networks. The technologies let users move the network control plane and tasks out of proprietary gear and into software that can run atop commodity systems.
The ETSI released the first specifications for NFV in 2012. Networking vendors are pushing out NFV technologies that are being embraced by carriers worldwide. Analysts with IHS Infonetics Research expect the global market for NFV hardware, software and services will grow from $2.3 billion this year to $11.6 billion by 2019.
"NFV represents operators' shift from a hardware focus to software focus, and our forecasts show this," Michael Howard, senior director for carrier networks at IHS, said in a statement when the numbers came out in July. "The software is always a much larger investment than the server, storage and switch hardware, representing about $4 of every $5 spent on NFV."
HP has aggressively built out its NFV capabilities, including creating a business unit around the technology. Earlier this year, the company unveiled the HP NFV System, a platform of hardware and software that includes HP's carrier-grade Helion OpenStack cloud software and enhanced management capabilities and is aimed at telcos. It also is collaborating with other vendors, like NEC as well as F5 and Nuage on the PoC, to develop NFV offerings.