Red Hat and NEC want to make it easier for communications service providers to embrace network-functions virtualization in their data centers.
The two companies, which have partnered on other network-functions virtualization (NFV) efforts, now are building a cloud platform that will leverage NEC's infrastructure products and Red Hat's OpenStack infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solution and will enable service providers to more quickly modernize their networks as they move to NFV.
The platform will integrate NEC's NFV system with Red Hat's Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform to create a scalable and open cloud platform for service providers. The integration will enable mobile packet core virtualization (or virtualized Evolved Pack Core, also known as vEPC) and virtual Customer Premises Equipment (vCPE), capabilities that are important to service providers, according to officials with the two companies.
NFV and software-defined networking (SDN) are beginning to reshape how service providers and enterprises are building their networks. With NFV and SDN, the network control plan and various networking tasks—like load balancing, firewalls and intrusion detection—are removed from complex and expensive networking gear and put into software, where they can run on commodity hardware. The results are networks that are more scalable, programmable, agile and affordable. This enables service providers to spin out new services in a matter of minutes rather than weeks or months, meeting customer demand and opening up new revenue streams.
Infonetics Research analysts last year said they expect the global market for service provider NFV and SDN to hit $11 billion in 2018—up from less than $500 million in 2013—with the bulk of that spending going to NFV.
"NFV offers tremendous potential to transform the telecommunications industry and radically change the way CSPs [communications service providers] deliver solutions to their customers," Tim Yeaton, senior vice president of Red Hat's Infrastructure Business Group, said in a statement.
The platform from Red Hat and NEC is only the latest step in a collaboration between the two companies that spans more than a decade, according to officials. In recent years, the focus has shifted to NFV that takes advantage of OpenStack and NEC's experience with telecommunications networks. Officials said the result of this collaboration has been driving NFV features into OpenStack and the Kernal-based Virtual Machine (KVM) and creating systems that are scaled for carriers.
Some of the NFV features created via the Red Hat-NEC collaboration have found their way into the recent OpenStack Juno release or the upcoming OpenStack Kilo release. In that vein, officials said that, through their work on the joint NFV platform, the two companies will continue to contribute to such open-source communications as OpenStack and the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV).
"NEC has commercially delivered SDN/NFV solutions, including vEPC and vCPE, and will continue driving innovation with broader virtualized network functions that promote greater agility, stability and security of services as well as new revenue creation while enabling a wide range of customers to significantly reduce the total cost of ownership," Atsuo Kawamura, senior vice president at NEC, said in a statement.
The expanded Red Hat-NEC partnership comes two months after Red Hat announced a similar alliance with Huawei Technologies. The two companies announced in December that they were combining Huawei's expertise in the telecom industry with Red Hat's OpenStack capabilities to create solutions to help service providers leverage OpenStack in their adoption of NFV.