HP Creates NFV Hardware, Software Platform

HP's NFV System, which includes servers, storage, management and OpenStack, will help service providers accelerate their adoption of the technology.

HP NVF hardware

Hewlett-Packard, which has aggressively pursued the NFV market over the past couple of years, will soon be offering a pre-integrated platform comprising software and hardware features to make it easier for service providers to embrace network-functions virtualization.

Company officials said the HP NFV System—which will include HP's carrier-grade Helion OpenStack cloud software, enhanced management capabilities, servers and storage nodes—will speed up the time it takes for telecommunications vendors to deploy their NFV environments.

"Many telcos and suppliers have done NFV proof-of-concepts and are now ready to move to production," Saar Gillai, senior vice president and general manager of NFV and global lead for telecommunications at HP, said in a statement. "To do that, they need solutions that are open, carrier grade, and easy to deploy."

Communications service providers (CSPs) are pushing to adopt NFV because of the greater flexibility and agility it brings to their networks. NFV essentially removes network tasks like routing, load balancing and firewalls from the underlying hardware and puts it into software that can more easily be programmed and can run atop low-cost commodity systems. Networks become more agile and cost-efficient, and the service providers can more easily and quickly spin out services.

The combination of NFV with software-defined networking (SDN) is fueling rapid changes in the networking market for both telecoms and enterprises. A survey last year by Infonetics Research analysts found that 97 percent of operators said they plan to deploy SDN, while another 93 said they will deploy NFV in some measure in the future. The analysts also said that while carriers move their SDN and NFV programs into field trials last year, 2015 will be the year that commercial deployments begin to ramp up to any real extent.

HP's NFV System offerings, which will begin to hit the market in the third quarter, aim to help with that. Along with the OpenStack technology and the hardware, the solutions also will encompass HP's NFV Director 3.0, which includes new analytics capabilities that will enable customers to collect and analyze the NFV data coming in to help service providers more quickly make sound business decisions.

There are several offerings under the NFV System flag that offer differing mixes of hardware and software and address different use cases. The HP NFV Starter Kit includes compute and control nodes, virtual infrastructure management software, Helion OpenStack Carrier Grade and storage technologies, and is aimed at helping telecoms quickly deploy NFV clouds.

The NFV Compute Kit includes server nodes running virtual network functions (VNF) workloads, and can be combined with the Starter Kit to give users more flexible scale-out architecture options. The NFV Control Kit includes the carrier-grade Helion OpenStack management software, including HP's OneView, Intelligent Management Center and Central Management Console software. It targets customers that have limited capital funds to spend on an NFV infrastructure and that might be running limited custom trials that are using existing infrastructure resources.

The NFV Storage Kit can be used to provide the Starter Kit with more storage to handle such storage-intensive workloads as content delivery networks.

HP's Helion OpenStack Carrier Grade offering brings together the vendor's own OpenStack offering with carrier-grade technologies from Intel subsidiary Wind River. It enables service providers to more quickly deploy VNFs and is available either preloaded onto the NFV System offerings or separately. In addition, HP Technology Services offers consulting services to help service providers make sure their infrastructure is ready for NFV.

The new NFV System program is the latest effort by HP in the NFV space. The company has its own NFV business unit and a growing collection of technologies under the OpenNFV program aimed at service providers. In November 2014, HP hooked up with Nokia to create NFV cloud platforms for telecoms, and earlier this year the company was named a key partner in Telefonica's Unica network virtualization program.