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Dell Announces NFV Platform, Starter Kits

By David Delony October 15, 2014

Dell has introduced Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and starter kits for telecommunications carriers.

“NFV marks a momentous technology shift – and opportunity – for telecommunications providers. In the past, they had to rely on both highly-proprietary and complex arrangements of dedicated appliances for service delivery. Now, in an increasingly disaggregated world, the technology options can be overwhelming. Dell wants to simplify this and cut through the clutter,”  Marius Haas, Dell chief commercial officer and president of Dell enterprise solutions, said. “Our goal is to deliver the most open, flexible and practical NFV platform by combining our technology with a strong partner ecosystem to help service providers streamline service creation and delivery.”

NFV does for networking equipment what server virtualization did for servers: emulate hardware components in software. An NFV server can be configured to act as a session border controller, a switch or a router just by changing the software. A physical server can house different kinds of networking devices at the same time, just like a server can contain other virtual machines.

Customers can scale up, that is, moving to more powerful machines, or scale out, adding more nodes to their networks.

To encourage adoption, Dell is also offering two starter kits for customers to build proof of concept networks before plunging into full-scale adoption of NFV. One solution is based around Dell’s PowerEdge R630 1RU nodes and the other is based around its M1000e blade chassis and new M630 compute blades.

Both kits include all of the necessary networking hardware and software, including Dell’s S6000 10/40GbE Open Networking platform, OpenDaylight-compliant Active Fabric Manager, Active Fabric Controller, Dell Foglight and Dell OpenManage Network Manager.

Dell is distinguishing itself by a commitment to open hardware and software. Dell is basing its solution on its Intel Xeon PowerEdge servers. It’s also open on the software front, as it’s working closely with Red Hat to use OpenStack software. Dell offers its starter kit customers a choice of Linux and OpenStack distributions.

“We’ve long recognized the transformative potential NFV and SDN have for carriers as they modernize to meet customer demands and bring products to market faster,” said Radhesh Balakrishnan  Red Ha general manager of Virtualization and OpenStack. “Red Hat and Dell are closely collaborating in many areas related to NFV, SDN, and OpenStack. With the Dell NFV platform, we’re happy to extend our commitment to jointly engineering OpenStack-based NFV and SDN solutions built on Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform to help carriers take advantage of these technologies.”

With the PC market cooling in favor of mobile devices, Dell appears to be concentrating on the enterprise market with high-powered solutions like these. If users are moving to mobile devices, there will still be a need for carriers to upgrade networks to handle all of this new data. NFV looks like one way to go.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing Writer

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