Canadian telecom operator Bell Canada launched its Virtual Network Services (VNS) platform that allows enterprise customers to deploy and manage applications and services that reside in the carrier’s private cloud. And Cisco’s Viptela SD-WAN service will be the first application available on the VNS platform.
The VNS service relies on NFV to allow enterprise customers to manage the VNS applications. It also taps into the carrier’s launch late last year of an open source version of the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP). Jeremy Wubs, senior vice president at Bell Business Markets, explained in an email that the VNS platform includes network orchestration and closed loop automation.
The applications are housed in Bell Canada’s private cloud and managed at the customer’s site through a single piece of universal customer premises equipment (uCPE). That equipment is currently being supplied by Juniper and Cisco and can support multiple virtual network functions (VNFs).
“This provides the ability to spin up new network services on-demand enabling immediate access to network functions, such as security, intelligent routing, application acceleration,” Wubs said of the platform. He said the carrier was also evaluating white box-type equipment to deliver the service.
Verizon launched a similarly branded VNS platform in mid-2016. The service allows enterprise customers to use NFV to launch and manage services like routers and firewalls.
99.9 Percent SLA
The Bell Canada VNS comes with a service level agreement (SLA) of a minimum 99.9 percent guaranteed uptime. Cisco’s Viptela SD-WAN service will be the first VNF to test that SLA.
Wubs said the carrier reviewed a number of SD-WAN vendors. It picked Cisco, “as their solution demonstrates leadership in enterprise features and scalability.” It also helps that Bell Canada is Cisco’s largest partner in Canada.
Cisco last year completed its $610 million acquisition of Viptela. Kiran Ghodgaonkar, senior marketing manager for enterprise networking at Cisco, recently told SDxCentral that the nearly 1,000 customers are using the Viptela SD-WAN platform.
Wubs noted that Bell Canada is working with other third-party providers to introduce new VNFs. Those include security, routing, WiFi, and acceleration services that are expected to be rolled out in the coming months.
Bell Canada has been aggressive in terms of virtualizing its network assets. The carrier late last year was the first organization to deploy an open source version of ONAP in a production environment. The carrier initially used the platform to automate its data center tenant network provisioning. It was also using the ONAP operations manager to support deployments, reduce its operational footprint, and enable continuous delivery.
“This foundation was critical in establishing the framework for Bell VNS and extending automated provisioning in the data center and edge,” Wubs said of ONAP.
ONAP was birthed out of the AT&T-led Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management, and Policy (ECOMP) platform and China Mobile-led Open-O platform being donated into the Linux Foundation. The open source version of that combination was dubbed ONAP.
Bell was one of the early partners on AT&T’s ECOMP, signing up to test the platform in late 2016. That initial testing was around creating and managing SDN.