Japanese mobile operator NTT Docomo is forging ahead with software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), today announcing SDN deployments with Cisco and NFV deployments with NEC.
NTT Docomo is deploying Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) in its mobile network. ACI comprises Cisco Nexus 9000 switches, the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), and the NX-OS operating system.
Cisco’s ACI will apply policies linked to Docomo’s NFV platform, and APIC will provide real-time monitoring of physical and virtual assets as well as applications. Cisco’s SDN technology will also dynamically manage network resources in response to application requirements, periods of congestion, and disaster recovery situations.
The vEPC virtualizes the functions of Docomo’s LTE core network, including its mobility management entity (MME) and its S gateway and P gateway. NEC’s VNF Manager handles lifecycle events, such as creation, activation, termination, and update of virtual network functions (VNFs).
In today’s announcement, Seizo Onoe, CTO of NTT Docomo, talks about working with “NEC and other leading vendors in the NFV domain,” noting, “Docomo expects to virtualize many other key components of its mobile network, aiming to eventually establish a fully virtualized network.”
In the past couple of years, Docomo has discussed its vEPC plans, mentioning work with several other vendors, including Ericsson, Fujistu, Nokia, and Huawei. It’s unclear from Onoe’s comment whether these other vendors have now fallen by the wayside.
**Update 3/16/16 After the original publication of this story, Ericsson announced its open NFV platform was also launched for the commercial network of NTT Docomo on March 9. The Ericsson NFV platform provides interoperability and connectivity with any carrier class VNF and SDN.