Oracle, Intel Demo Carrier-Grade NFV Platform

Oracle optimizes its software to direct network traffic to Intel servers to ensure high NFV performance on standard Intel systems. 


Oracle is working with Intel on a project designed to show that the combination of their technologies will enable communications service providers to operate carrier-grade networks in virtualized environments.

Oracle Communications officials at the Oracle Industry Connect 2015 event in Washington, D.C., March 25 ran a demonstration of Oracle's Communications Network Service Orchestration—which was released last month—that was optimized for Intel's Open Network Platform (ONP) and used the OpenStack cloud management stack.

The project shows that communications service providers (CSPs) can gain the benefits of network-functions virtualization (NFV)—from greater network agility and flexibility to lower operation costs and the ability to more quickly build and deploy services—without having to compromise on network performance, according to Liam Maxwell, vice president of products for Oracle Communications.

"It takes the theory of delivering carrier-grade capabilities in a commercial data center and turns it into reality," Maxwell said in a statement. "We've proven that we can orchestrate services and network functions from the top of the management and orchestration (MANO) stack all the way to individual network processors, and we can do it at scale."

Since the initial paper on NFV was introduced by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) in 2012, carriers and telecommunications companies have been looking to move as quickly as possible to adopt the technology. NFV essentially takes the various networking tasks—such as load balancing, firewalls, and intrusion detection and prevention—off of expensive and complex switches and routers and puts them into software that can run atop lower cost commodity hardware. In this case, that hardware is Intel-based systems.

Both Oracle and Intel—as well as many other established data center tech vendors and younger startups—are building out their capabilities to take advantage of the transitions happening in networking toward more software-based offerings fueled by the rise of NFV and software-defined networking (SDN).

When the Oracle Communications Network Service Orchestration Solution was introduced in February, company officials said the product would enable service providers to more quickly spin out service to their customers while reducing time and costs of developing and managing those services. It also marked only one of the latest moves by Oracle into the NFV space. Just more than two weeks later, Oracle announced the Netra Modular System, a converged infrastructure solution aimed at CSPs and their NFV efforts.

The software giant over the past couple of years has launched NFV management and orchestration tools, and last year also joined the OpenDaylight Project, which is working to create an open framework for SDN and NFV deployment.

For its part, Intel began laying out its plans for NFV in 2013, when it introduced the Open Network Platform, an NFV reference platform that is powered by its Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors.

In the demonstration, Oracle optimized products for Intel's ONP by using the Enhanced Platform Awareness capabilities of the OpenStack infrastructure management software. Intel helped create the Enhanced Platform Awareness technology as a way of matching workloads with the hardware resources they need when launching a virtual machine. The Oracle software directs network activity to Intel-based systems that work as network appliances, enabling CSPs and carriers to get performance equal to what they have now while getting the benefits of a standard Intel-based environment.

In addition, the technology being demonstrated March 25 and 26 can be used with the network equipment interfaces from any vendor, which ensures that telecoms can continue to support multivendor environments, according to Oracle officials.