CenturyLink is on a tight deadline with its commitment to fully virtualize its IP core network by the end of 2019. As part of that, the service provider is emulating some of the open source communities’ work to create a Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center (CORD).
The company announced today that it is the first carrier to use its own virtualized Broadband Network Gateway (vBNG) to support broadband services over DSL to its residential and business customers.
Adam Dunstan, CenturyLink’s VP of SDN and NFV engineering, said the company developed the vBNG in-house. It’s built on an Intel white box server. Initially, CenturyLink has deployed the vBNG in some of its central offices and data centers in Minnesota.
Dunstan said a lot of CORD work has focused on fiber connectivity such as GPON for the access connection. But no work, outside of CenturyLink, has been done around DSL. “We need to provide DSL and GPON to customers,” he said. “We have a significant footprint for both.”
Ultimately, the company wants to use CORD to unify its access technologies across a common infrastructure. But it’s starting with DSL and will continue to roll out its vBNG for DSL throughout 2017.
“We built a CORD system using a set of components; some are similar and some are different than the [ONOS] working group,” said Dunstan. “We didn’t use software from ONOS.”
He added: “We used a number of components that are open source and generally available — OpenStack, OpenDaylight controllers, Intel software toolkits. Just because you’re doing CORD doesn’t mean you have to do ONOS CORD.”
CenturyLink built its SDN access controller using OpenDaylight software. As far as ONOS, Dunstan said, “The ONOS controller is a piece of software that controls virtual routers. There’s a bunch of other good container managers already. And we’re not yet moving the CPE from the premise into the central office. We didn’t need to use any of those components.”
CenturyLink did a full-stack test of its vBNG in production. The test included activation, forwarding, talking to walled gardens, and accessing the company’s authorization and provisioning systems.
“We made no changes to provisioning and authorization to deploy this,” said Dunstan. “It’s been in and out of production. We’re moving it to another location at the moment.”
“Our CORD deployment is a significant milestone on our path to achieve full network virtualization,” said Aamir Hussain, CenturyLink’s CTO, in a statement.
In addition to virtualizing its infrastructure, CenturyLink continues to develop and implement virtualized services, including a virtual firewall, data center interconnection and software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) for enterprise customers.