The Netsocket Virtual Network (NVN) is coming to life, as Netsocket is announcing the first full-product instantiation of the framework.
That would be the Netsocket Virtual Edge (NVE), being announced Tuesday. Netsocket pitches NVE as a way for managed service providers to reach small businesses or a customer’s remote offices without having to physically go there — meaning services can be added or enhanced remotely.
NVN, introduced in July, is Netsocket’s version of software-defined networking (SDN), one that counts servers and switches as commodity items. A normal branch deployment might take a branch-office router, an Ethernet switch, and a server; Netsocket says it can replace that setup with an eight-port switch and what it calls the MicroCloud Server, a compact x86-based box.
The MicroCloud Server is 4x4x2 inches at minimum and can host a few services such as a session border controller or additional security.
End customers are meant to be able to install all this themselves, meaning the service provider can physically mail the gear out to the branch and turn up the service remotely. Later, the service provider could sell the customer additional services that would likewise be provisioned remotely.
So for the service provider, most of the attraction to NVE will be on the operational side. “The capex savings are really dwarfed by the opex savings,” says Tricia Hosek, Netsocket’s chief operating officer.
SDN in Virtual Pieces
The bigger picture behind NVE is NVN, a full three-layer (applications, control layer, and infrastructure) SDN apparatus made up of virtual machines.
The infrastructure layer is comprised of two virtual machines that sit in the MicroCloud Server: the vFlowSwitch for Layer 3 forwarding and the vRemoteAgent, an orchestration and automation element that has a corresponding piece out in the cloud.
The key piece of the controller layer is the vFlowController, which issues Layer 2-4 forwarding instructions to the network. The vFlowController, in turn, receives its orders from the vNetCommander up at the application layer; this is the interface that the service provider uses to tell the network what an application wants.
“We’re taking the benefits of the virtualization that’s happening already in the data center — it’s been happening for years — and moving them to the edge of the network,” says Dave Corley, Netsocket’s director of product management.
The first customer to deploy NVE is Catapult Systems, a Microsoft integrator. NVE is also in trials with a couple of managed service providers and is about to start trials with a Tier 1 service provider, Hosek says. Netsocket is lining up a distributor as well and is hoping to announce that partnership next month.
What About Old-School Netsocket?
Netsocket was originally in the network assurance business but made NVN its priority last year. By October, NVN was drawing enough attention that Netsocket decided to license out the network assurance business to Nectar Services Corp., which provides network management and monitoring software for unified communications.
The business and “a few” people have now completed the transition to Nectar, Hosek says. Netsocket held onto the related patents, which it will be using in vNetOptimizer, an application coming out this summer that automates certain network repairs.