Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today went live with its OpenNFV Solution Portal, providing communications service providers access to a catalogue of virtual network functions (VNFs) from HPE OpenNFV partners.
The catalogue initially features more than 60 VNFs, categorized by use case or vendor. Use cases include such things as load balancers, firewalls, IPsec VPNs, packet processors, routers, traffic management engines, and virtual CPEs (vCPE).
HPE (then known as Hewlett-Packard Co.) announced its OpenNFV initiative in February 2014 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where it said it would begin producing an NFV reference architecture that spans servers, OSSs, storage, and networking, among other pieces.
But that’s a tall order (one that the OPNFV open source group is also working on). While HPE has made significant progress with its NFV architecture, it doesn’t appear that very many carriers have evolved their networks enough to simply select a VNF from a catalogue and deploy it.
“I wouldn’t say plug-and-play; it’s obviously not that easy,” says Werner Schaefer, HPE’s vice president of NFV. “If you have a carrier that’s done a lot of work and sees a need for new services, it may be capable of deploying fairly quickly. AT&T with Domain 2.0 has probably made the biggest strides.”
Schaefer says a lot depends on what the carrier’s network looks like and what particular NFV use case it’s considering. He says one carrier in Japan purchased a VNF in early November and is planning a small rollout with live customers at the end of January. But any VNF will have to be optimized for a particular network and integrated with the back-office systems.
HPE’s OpenNFV architecture is based on the work of the ETSI NFV industry specifications group (ISG) and on HPE’s own Helion distribution of OpenStack. It’s also based on HPE’s hardware, but the architecture is interoperable with other vendors’ hardware as well.
“We decided to open this program to anybody who is willing to test on the reference architecture,” says Schaefer. “This portal will accelerate the time that is normally needed” to deploy a VNF.
Gunning for More Integration Business
HPE is well known as a service integrator, and that is a big part of its OpenNFV initiative as well. The VNF portal provides HPE with a new avenue to communicate with carriers about their network virtualization needs.
“These are all use cases where a carrier can talk to us and our consulting services if they like,” says Schaefer.
In fact, HPE is already working on offering customized VNF designer and deployment services in 2016. It’s also planning a marketplace to acquire pre-validated VNFs.
As for the initial VNF catalogue, all of the offerings have been validated in HPE OpenNFV Labs, where they are tested on up to three levels, including:
- Basic onboarding, functional testing, and virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM) level monitoring
- Testing of network service orchestration and service chaining
- Testing of integration into service operation processes such as OSS/BSS