Ciena expanded its Blue Planet virtualization platform for automating network services. It’s calling its new offering Distributed Network Function Virtualization (D-NFV). The “distributed” part means operators can deploy virtual network functions (VNFs) at the network edge and the customer premises.
Blue Planet software is already being used by providers such as CenturyLink and Orange Business Services to instantiate VNFs in centralized environments. But Joe Cumello, Ciena’s VP of portfolio marketing, says, “We’re finding there’s some demand for a distributed case where you have VNFs at the customer edge. We’ve developed our own NFV Infrastructure (NFVI) that can sit on both Ciena hardware or can sit on top of third-party x86 hardware.”
The distributed NFV system allows network operators to quickly roll out new virtual network services, such as SD-WAN, IP routing, firewalls, and encryption. And they can obtain these VNFs from their preferred vendors.
The new offering includes the required software, hardware, and professional services. And customers can disaggregate the piece-parts if they choose. In addition, these parts (below) can operate in a multivendor environment:
- Ciena’s Blue Planet orchestration software.
- New carrier-grade NFVI software for distributed environments.
- A new 3906mvi hardware platform with a plug-in for an x86 server. The Ciena hardware can also host third-party NFVI and VNF software. Or customers can use third-party x86 servers.
- Ciena professional services to facilitate all steps toward offering virtual network services.
Ciena says its D-NFVI also improves upon OpenStack to address limitations due to the fact OpenStack was designed to work in a centralized, non-carrier environment.
As far as Ciena’s 3906mvi hardware, it’s basically an Ethernet access device, which includes a plug-in for an x86 sever. “Why is there an Ethernet access device in there?” asks Brian Lavallée, Ciena’s director of portfolio solutions marketing. “The customers are service providers. You can get a foot in the door selling Ethernet and then upsell other virtualized services. It’s an easy, elegant path to sell Ethernet basic connectivity, then really easy to sell virtualized functions on the same platform.”