Huawei Building NFV, SDN Test Lab

The company is looking to use the facilities to accelerate the adoption of the networking technologies among telecommunications vendors.

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Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies is building a lab that officials said will help fuel the development and adoption by telecommunications companies of network-functions virtualization and software-defined networking technologies.

Huawei officials announced the construction of the Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) Open Lab Nov. 24, saying the center will help ensure that solutions and carrier-grade infrastructures will be compatible with the open standards being created by the two-month-old Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) project, of which Huawei is one of 17 founding members.

The vendor's NFV Open Lab will focus on the integration of NFV, software-defined networking (SDN) and cloud computing technologies in global telecom infrastructures, according to company officials. The lab will actually have three sites—in China, Germany and the United States—and will offer the virtualization capabilities, infrastructure, certifications and testing, integration and verification services to global telecoms, partners and other tech vendors.

NFV is a key part of Huawei's larger networking strategy, which also includes SDN. In February, the company was one of a number of vendors to use the Mobile World Congress 2014 show to talk about Huawei's Cloud Edge solutions, which is designed to leverage cloud-based mobile broadband network architectures to enable organizations to automate the management of entire networks, officials at the time said. It's aimed at helping network operators and service providers increase their mobile broadband opportunities, reduce network operation costs and more quickly spin out services for customers.

Cloud Edge is part of the company's softCom efforts to bring cloud, NFV and SDN solutions to telecoms over the next 10 years, enabling them to leverage the hardware and software they already have in their networks while bringing on new innovations.

Huawei also has been building out its SDN portfolio via such products as new switches and network controllers.

Adoption of both SDN and NFV technologies is expected to grow among both telecoms and enterprises as they look for ways to build more agile, programmable and automated networks to address the rapidly changing demands brought on by such trends as mobile computing, big data and the cloud. SDN and NFV call for separating the network control plane and tasks from the underlying networking hardware and putting it into software, which can run on less expensive commodity hardware.

In a report earlier this month, Infonetics Research analysts said they expect the market for global carrier SDN and NFV hardware and software to grow from less than $500 million in 2013 to more than $11 billion in 2018, with NFV accounting for the bulk of the market over that time. By 2018, SDN and NFV software will make up three-quarters of the overall revenues in the SDN and NFV market, they said.

"For three years, the telecom industry has been abuzz over SDN and NFV, with anticipation and hard work developing the vision, goals, architectures, use case, proof-of-concept projects, field trials and even some commercial deployments," Michael Howard, principal analyst for carrier networks with Infonetics, said in a statement.

There also is a broad array of industry consortiums around both SDN—including OpenDaylight, Open Networking Foundation and Open Network Operating System (ONOS)—and NFV. OPNFV—whose founders also include Intel, IBM, AT&T and Cisco Systems—is aiming to develop an open-source reference platform for NFV.