HPE Product Tackles NFV Management in Hybrid Networks

The vendor's Service Director gives service providers a new tool for orchestrating NFV services over physical and virtual networks.


Hewlett Packard Enterprise wants to help communications service providers manage their services across hybrid network infrastructures.

The company this week unveiled HPE Service Director, an expansion of the vendor's NFV Director management and orchestration capabilities that brings greater automation and openness to service providers' mixed physical and virtual networks, according to company officials.

Communications service providers (CSPs) are anxious to embrace network-functions virtualization (NFV) in their environments, but there are a range of hurdles that need to be cleared, including complexity, according to Rolf Eberhardt, worldwide OSS (operation support systems) fulfillment business lead at HPE. Few telecommunications service providers have the ability to clear out their existing infrastructure and bring in all new technologies, so they are forced to manage hybrid environments that include existing physical systems and new virtualized offerings.

"You cannot go into telcos any more today and have them do massive transformation operations," Eberhardt told eWEEK. "They've been burnt in the past."

With Service Director, HPE officials want to give CSPs a tool that gives them a holistic view of their entire hybrid network so they can reduce the complexity involved with managing services across both the physical and virtual infrastructure.

NFV and software-defined networking are designed to enable more scalable, programmable, agile and affordable networks by removing the control plane and networking tasks—like routing, load balancing and intrusion detection—from the underlying hardware and putting them into software that can run on less costly commodity systems. Service providers are pushing to adopt both NFV and SDN to enable them to spin out services to customers more quickly and to reduce their operating expenses.

Analysts with Research and Markets said in a report last month that mobile operators and Internet service providers already are investing in SDN and NFV for such uses as information management, policy control, customer premises equipment (CPE) and content delivery networks (CDNs). They are predicting that service provider investment into SDN and NFV will grow by 54 percent annually between last year and 2020 as service providers look to reduce costs and virtualize their networks, reaching more than $20 billion by the end of 2020.

Other vendors also are pushing efforts to make it easier for CSPs to embrace NFV. For example, Oracle over the past year has made a number of moves, including launching NFV management tools, developing a carrier-grade NFV platform and updating its OSS suite to help service providers more easily design services that span both physical and virtual networks.

HPE's Eberhardt said his company's offering gives users a more holistic view of their hybrid networks and a better understanding for how to manage and orchestrate the services running across them than do more siloed existing OSS environments.

Features in HPE's Service Director include automation capabilities to create what officials call a closed-loop automation of assurance and fulfillment and the use of common data to enable greater accuracy and a single pane through which to manage the services in the hybrid network. In addition, dynamic service descriptors are key differentiators for HPE, Eberhardt said. They offer open and flexible modeling of service as well as their relationships and behaviors, which leads to greater operational agility. They also help reduce the deployment of services from months to weeks, he said.

The product also can work with third-party components, including SDN controllers and policy engines from other vendors. That gives users greater flexibility in personalizing the delivery of their services.

Service Director will become part of HPE's larger OpenNFV portfolio of products. The company has rapidly expanded its capabilities in the NFV space, including offering a range of NFV platforms and orchestration solutions and an array of virtual network functions (VNF) from partners. The company has partnered with such vendors as F5 Networks, Telefonica and NEC on NFV efforts, bought companies like ConteXtream to boost its capabilities, and worked with Intel, Cisco Systems and others to launch the open-source industry consortium Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) project.

HPE's Service Director 1.0 will be available early this year, and pre-configured solutions for specific use cases will be delivered as extensions to the base product, starting with HPE Service Director for vCPE 1.0, officials said.