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Verizon, Big Switch, Red Hat Share NFV Lessons Learned

By Stefania Viscusi May 24, 2016

Network functions virtualization is a relatively new idea for communications services providers, so there’s a fairly steep learning curve involved. So organizations in the networking space are doing their best to share what they’re learning during NFV tests and early implementations.

Verizon and its partners Big Switch and Red Hat at the recent OpenStack Summit did just that, as detailed in a Red Hat blog posted earlier this week. The threesome participated in a large nine-month trial of NFV.

The CSP was involved in this activity in its effort to create an elastic, scalable, network-wide platform running across its entire organization. It needs this new platform to have the same reliability as its current solution, but with more agility and cost efficiency, explained Chris Emmons, director of NFV planning at Verizon.

Verizon wanted to start with commodity hardware to save costs, and open source software for cost savings and to enable more innovation on its network. On top of that foundation, he said, Verizon wanted to have automation, SDN, and virtualization.

Big Switch brought its SDN solution to the party. Red Hat contributed its virtualization solutions. And Verizon worked on the automation part.

Planning for this effort began in March of last year. Technical evaluations ran from March through May. Design and testing took place in June and July. Deployment ran from August through November. And by the end of last year there were five data centers in production with this. That included two beta sites with more than 100 nodes and three production sites with about 400 nodes.

What they discovered in the process is that vSwitch/physical network operational silos are a non starter for NFV, and OpenStack good enough networking shortcuts also don’t work for NFV. They advised that one should assume installers that aren’t integrated are incompatible, that one size does not fit all for NFV workload connectivity, that a high GTP traffic mix requires DSP optimizations at the vSwitch, leaf, and spine; that OpenStack automates provisioning of almost all NFV required infrastructure – but not all of it; and that upgrades, downgrades, and failures can be expected with heterogeneous provisioning systems.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Assignment Desk, Content Management

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