Here’s a network functions virtualization (NFV) use case I hadn’t considered before: replacing equipment that’s reached obsolescence, more politely called end-of-life (EOL).
A European incumbent operator is facing end-of-life treatment for the equipment it’s using in the voice network. This means the products will no longer be supported or sold by the vendor.
The software is still supported by the vendor; it’s just that the carrier is being forced onto a new hardware platform. And the carrier didn’t like that idea.
“Rather than just replace the hardware from their existing vendor, they wanted to go to an NFV-based deployment,” Drew said. “They did not want to get locked in by the next hardware revision.”
It also happened to be a cheaper option, he said. This particular carrier has been offering enterprise services through its own data center, so the organization is well versed in virtualization and has ready RackSpace for an NFV deployment.
But the main thing is that the carrier doesn’t have to face equipment obsolescence again. Or, more precisely: The carrier’s hardware becomes obsolete more often, but in a way that’s expected. Servers get replaced every few years, and replacements are easy to find and don’t have to come from the same vendor.
This, of course, as been one goal of NFV all along: Avoid vendor lock-in by moving network functions to commodity hardware. The mini-epiphany for me during this webinar was that any time equipment reaches end-of-life, it forces a new round of equipment shopping, which can create a natural transition point for NFV.
Metaswitch plans to more formally announce this use case soon, Drew said.