Mirantis Pushes OpenStack NFV Initiative for Telcos

The company is bringing more NFV features to its OpenStack offering while partnering with such vendors as Citrix, Metaswitch and Overture.

Mirantis OpenStack NFV Initiative

OpenStack provider Mirantis is looking to expand its reach in the network virtualization space to help telecommunications companies and managed service providers more quickly and easily address customer demands for more services and applications.

Company officials said that for more than a year Mirantis has been working with telco customers to implement network-function virtualization (NFV) projects in their environments. Now the company—which last year joined the year-old Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) project—is partnering with Citrix Systems, Metaswitch Networks and Overture Networks to offer networking gear that is validated for Mirantis' OpenStack open-source cloud orchestration stack.

At the same time, Mirantis will add various NFV features to its OpenStack distribution to make it a carrier-grade offering that offers such capabilities as a small physical footprint, high availability and single root I/O virtualization that are critical in NFV deployments.

"The telecommunications industry is in the midst of a massive transformation," Kamesh Pammaraju, vice president of product and partner marketing, said in a statement. "It faces a ballooning customer base consuming massive amounts of data, and competition from a new wave of startups born out of the Web. These companies must innovate, and to do so, their networking needs to be agile, scalable and cost effective. The best way to do this is through NFV."

NFV and software-defined networking (SDN) are rapidly changing the way networks are designed, deployed and operated. They enable such networking tasks as load balancing and firewalls, as well as the control plane, to be removed from the underlying hardware and put into software, which will make networks more agile, programmable, scalable and affordable, according to tech vendors and industry analysts.

They are designed to enable telcos and service providers to spin out services and applications to their end users in a fraction of the time and cost needed to do so on traditional, hardware-focused networks.

Carriers are rapidly embracing both NFV and SDN. According to analysts with IHS Infonectics, carriers will spend $5.7 billion on SDN hardware, software and services by 2019. The global market for NFV hardware, software and services will hit $11.6 billion in 2019, up from $2.3 billion this year, the analysts said in a report in July.

"Telecommunications companies are increasingly drawn to NFV because it frees them from expensive proprietary hardware platforms, reduces operational expenses, and facilitates the launch of new applications and services quickly," OPNFV Director Heather Kirksey said in a statement. "Developers can spend less time on administrative tasks and more time delivering innovative applications and services to consumers."

Mirantis' NFV initiative has several aspects to it, according to officials. It will include a reference architecture and OpenStack validation program for virtual network functions (VNFs) from partners under its Unlocked Technology Partner Program. Among the newest validations are Citrix and its NetScaler load balancer and gateway appliance, Metaswitch's Perimeta session border control (SBC) and Overture's Ensemble Service Orchestrator (ESO) product.

In addition, Mirantis will offer a whitepaper and deployment guide for customers that want to deploy NFV solutions on OpenStack.

Mirantis' Pammaraju, in a post on the company blog, said Mirantis' NFV initiative did not mean a pivot for the company or forking its OpenStack offering.

"Today, a pivot of sorts is certainly happening—but it's happening in the carrier space," he wrote. "At Mirantis, we're actually talking about leveraging our pure-play OpenStack business model; years of OpenStack code-contribution and project leadership; more years of OpenStack cloud-building experience (including work with some of the biggest global carriers and their largest suppliers), all boiled down into the Mirantis OpenStack distribution—plus the model of our expanding Unlocked partner program: all working together to meet the requirements of the NFV use-case."