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VMware Exec Discusses the Three Phases of NFV

By Paula Bernier November 19, 2015

Most people in telecom are now familiar with the term network functions virtualization. NFV has to do with powering networks using software running on industry-standard hardware so network operators can benefit from cost savings and become more agile.

David Wright, vice president of operations at the telco NFV group within VMware, a pioneer in network virtualization, said NFV will move into networks in three phases. The first will involve the use of virtual network functions that essentially mirror those of the functionality found already in specific network appliances. The second phase, according to Wright, will involve the use of clustered distributed state and involve OpenStack. And the third phase will be built with microservices, he said, adding that has yet to hit the market.

Indeed, many vendors that sell such gear as customer premises equipment, evolved packet cores used in 4G LTE cellular networks, IMS solutions, session border controllers, and other network elements in recent months and years have come out with those same solutions but in software-only form. And now the industry is beginning to talk about and work on how to more easily enable the management of virtual network functions, or VNFs. And recently AT&T publicly stated its intention to leverage microservices along with containers as it moves forward to virtualize 75 percent of its network functions by 2020. Andre Fuetsch of AT&T recent told me that microservices can be used to connect resources across multiple containers.

VMware sells an NFVI platform, it is not a VNF business, Wright emphasized, adding that more than 60 VNFs run on its solution. VMware vCloud for NFV leverages the vendor’s virtualized compute, management, networking, and storage solutions, and supports OpenStack. The vCloud for NFV platform is in use by such customers as Tokyo-based service provider Internet Initiative Japan Inc.

Although VMware is best known for virtual machines, Wright noted the containers are also an integral part of the company’s strategy. He added that going forward VMware is also looking to partner more with SD-WAN solutions providers.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

Executive Editor, TMC

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