HPE Offers Catalog of Virtual Network Functions for Telcos

The vendor's OpenNFV Solution Portal gives carriers a single place to find a range of VNFs that are pre-tested to run on their networks.

cloud development

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is creating an online portal through which carriers can find virtual network functions from an array of partners that are pre-validated to run on their networks.

HPE officials unveiled the OpenNFV Solution Portal Dec. 9, saying it gives communications service providers (CSPs) another tool to help them embrace network-functions virtualization (NFV) in their environments. Telecommunications vendors are under increasing pressure to be able to more quickly spin out new services and applications to address the rapidly changing demands being put on them and to find new pathways to revenue, according to HPE officials.

NFV is a central component to creating agile, programmable and automated networks by taking many of the tasks—such as load balancing, firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention, and routing—that had been housed in expensive hardware and putting them into software that can run on less expensive commodity systems. NFV enables telcos to more quickly grow their revenue streams by virtualization of their networks and to lower costs.

With the OpenNFV Solution Portal, HPE officials are looking to offer carriers another way to increase their speed by giving them fast access to pre-validated virtual network functions (VNFs) from a broad range of partners.

"Providing CSPs with an array of pre-validated VNFs is critical to accelerating their journey to the telco cloud," Werner Schaefer, vice president of NFV at HPE, said in a statement, adding that the portal "gives CSPs access to the breadth of the OpenNFV partner ecosystem and ready-to-deploy solutions."

HPE in early 2014 rolled out the OpenNFV program, a collection of software and services to help carriers make the move to network virtualization. The vendor has since grown the ecosystem around it and brought on partners to expand its capabilities, including creating an alliance with NEC in July that brought together the OpenNFV platform with NEC's VNF and management systems.

Through the OpenNFV Solution Portal, CSPs gain access to VNFs from more than 60 partners and are able to search the catalog by use case or vendor. The partners include F5 Networks, Intel Security, Genband, Mitel, Brocade, A10 Networks and Kemp Technologies. All of the partner offerings are tested and pre-validated in HPE's OpenNFV Labs to ensure that carriers can easily on-board and configure the network functions to run in their environments.

The partner solutions are tested for basic on-boarding, lifecycle validation, virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM)-level monitoring and basic functionality, as well as performance, network service orchestration and service chaining. In addition, the VNFs are tested to ensure integration into service operation processes, including lifecycle management and upstream operations support system/business support system (OSS/BSS).

Carriers are increasingly embracing NFV. According to IHS Infonetics analysts, 35 percent of telcos surveyed said they planned to deploy NFV in their environments this year, and 48 percent planned to evaluate the technology in 2015.

"Though we're still in the early stages of a long-term transition to NFV-SDN [software-defined networking] architected networks, many carriers will be moving from proof-of-concept tests and lab evaluations to commercial deployments of NFV in 2015," Michael Howard, senior research director for carrier networks at IHS, said at the time the survey results were released in June. "In fact, all major operators are either now deploying NFV or plan to within the next few years. Providers believe that NFV and its SDN … companion are a fundamental change in telecom network architecture that will deliver benefits in service agility and new revenue, operational efficiencies and capex savings."

HPE officials said the OpenNFV Solution Portal will be delivered in phases, with the catalog containing the pre-validated VNFs available now. In 2016, the vendor will launch a marketplace for acquiring the VNFs, a designer solution and deployment services.