Oracle is continuing to build out the software framework that's designed to help communications service providers in their migration to network-functions virtualization.
The software giant on Feb. 10 introduced the Oracle Communications Network Service Orchestration Solution, a tool that officials said will not only enable service providers to more quickly create network services, but also reduce time and costs of developing and managing those services.
The orchestration software comes as service providers look to adopt network virtualization in their infrastructures. Network-functions virtualization (NFV) essentially takes the various networking tasks—such as load balancing, firewalls and intrusion detection—off of expensive and complex proprietary gear and puts them into software that can run on lower-cost commodity hardware. NFV—along with software-defined networking (SDN)—enables organizations to create networks that are more agile, programmable and automated.
For communication service providers, those capabilities are crucial at a time when trends like mobility, big data, social networks and cloud computing are increasing the demand from customers for more services. With a more dynamic network, service providers can not only create new services more quickly—in hours instead of weeks or months—to meet demand and improve customer experience, but also can expand their revenue streams.
Having a solution that enables them to orchestrate these network services in an NFV or hybrid environment will be increasingly important for telecommunications companies, according to Barry Hill, global head of NFV for Oracle Communications.
"Telecom core infrastructures are very complex," Hill told eWEEK. "People are trying wherever they can to get into [NFV], because they can see what they can do with it."
The Oracle Communications Network Service Orchestration Solution enables service providers to quickly deploy and scale network services in virtualized and hybrid environments, address changing demands for services, leverage a graphical design environment to build new network service templates and business rules, and more easily introduce and manage a virtual network infrastructure.
The orchestration tool uses open standards likes RESTful APIs to integrate with other management and orchestration tools from Oracle or other vendors.
The orchestration solution is part of a larger effort by Oracle Communications to build a holistic orchestration framework to help guide service providers as they embrace NFV and to help them get the most out of their investments. The framework collects and analyzes data about the network's performance and measures the performance against preset policies and business rules. It also can automatically modify services, network functions and virtualized infrastructures.
Over the past few years, Oracle officials have been pushing to build out its network virtualization capabilities both in house and via acquisitions, such as Acme Packet and Tekelec in 2013. The vendor last year unveiled its Oracle Communications Application Orchestrator to enable telecom firms to manage the lifecycle of virtual network functions and to respond to changing demands for network capacity. Around the same time, Oracle joined the OpenDaylight Project, a vendor-led consortium that is developing an open common platform for both NFV and SDN.
The company will show off the orchestration software as part of a larger display of its NFV capabilities at the Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, Spain, starting March 2.
Oracle is looking to combine its deep experience with communications service providers and its expanding portfolio of NFV capabilities to make it a logical partner for telecoms as they adopt network virtualization, Hill said.
"It's not a matter of if [the move to NFV] is going to happen," he said. "It's just when and with whom. We're past the point of whether we should or shouldn't do this. We passed that point about two-and-a-half years ago."
It was in 2012 when about a dozen telecoms, under the auspices of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), issued a white paper outlining the basic tenets of NFV. Since then, service providers have been pushing vendors for the technology to enable them to make the transition, and the market is expected to grow quickly.
Infonetics Research analysts in November 2014 said they expect the SDN and NFV hardware and software space for carriers to grow from less than $500 million in 2013 to more than $11 billion by 2018.