As a tech and business reporter, part of my job is to notice trends. Lately, I’ve noticed that I keep hearing about interesting European vendors that are doing network virtualization. But connecting with these vendors is kind of a pain. There’s usually about an eight-hour time difference between Denver, where SDxCentral is based, and many European cities. So typically, I have to schedule these interviews for 8 am Mtn. Time/4 pm Central European Time to accommodate everyone’s schedule.
That means that just as I’m settling down at my computer, coffee in hand, checking for the top news of the day, I receive a calendar alert that I have an interview in 10 minutes. “Yikes! I totally forgot about that.” And so the stress of the day begins.
I remember someone from the open source community talking about time zones being a challenge in that realm as well. It’s great that engineers from Cisco in California are collaborating with engineers from Huawei in China. But they’re never awake at the same time. It results in a lot of exhausted engineers talking about software at 2 a.m. local time.
But getting back to trends (and you can see this is a very scientific process), there do seem to be a lot more European vendors, emerging from anonymity, that are having success in network virtualization. Here are some I’ve spoken with recently:
A Polish company named Comarch is helping some forward-thinking European operators such as Telefónica, Vodafone, and Orange as they transform their networks. And Comarch has won a large deal with LG U+ in South Korea as it builds out its 5G mobile network. The 25-year-old company does operational support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS) for telcos. It competes against vendors such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Netcracker, Amdocs, and IBM. It has a long history working with TM Forum standardization frameworks, but Comarch also works with ETSI’s NFV standards. And it incorporates open source software such as OpenFlow and OpenDaylight (ODL) when appropriate.
A two-year-old, Slovakia-based startup, Frinx, is doing software-defined networking (SDN) for SoftBank in Japan, and it recently won a contract with China Telecom. Frinx supplies ODL and FD.io software for reliable infrastructure. It competes with other firms that work with ODL such as Lumina Networks and Inocybe Technologies, which is being acquired by Kontron.
Three network engineers who used to work for Orange Armenia saw the potential of SDN and NFV back in 2015, and they created their own company — XCloud Networks — to capitalize on the new technology. The company provides a complete solution to run data center networks. For hardware, XCloud Networks uses Open Compute Project (OCP)-compatible, commodity hardware. And it wrote its own code for its SDN controller to configure the hardware. It considers Apstra to be its main competitor. XCloud Networks established its base in Sunnyvale, California, with a remote office in Armenia.
The German company Stordis distributes telecom equipment in Europe. But Stordis is in the process of repositioning itself as the champion of open source networking hardware and software for European service providers. It plans to provide hardware from bare metal suppliers such as Edgecore and Delta. It will offer consultancy and support services to help European service providers adopt open source networking software. And the company is in the process of ramping the manufacturing of a 100 Gig switch that is based on Barefoot Networks’ Tofino programmable chip.