SAN JOSE, California — Verizon will soon launch an open source white box solution that runs services from multiple vendors, according to Shawn Hakl, Verizon’s vice president of new products and innovation.
Hakl alluded to the new product release during his Tuesday keynote at the 2017 NFV World Congress. “Customers differentiate between white box and gray box solutions. We’ve firmly seen customers are looking for standard off-the-shelf hardware, and they are willing to wait for this,” he said. “They perceive their risk to be really low…The people who have that are going to clean up.”
In a later interview with SDxCentral, Hakl confirmed an open source white box is in the works. “We expect to release a white box very soon,” Hakl said. “We are very aggressively pursuing that right now.”
Hakl would not disclose which vendors’ technologies would be included but said it will be a “mix of traditional and non-traditional suppliers.”
A white box, disaggregated approach is different from many past deployments that usually has a vendor providing the virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE) hardware, the network operating system, and the orchestration and provisioning system. It benefits customers because it doesn’t require a massive infrastructure investment, Hakl said.
“Really it ties back to people’s quest to digitize their business,” he said. “White box is really just about becoming more efficient in the way you deliver your services. Plus, the perception of risk is limited. You didn’t buy a $6,000 shiny box that’s special. You bought a $600 box that is reusable. If something better comes along, which it inevitably will, OK, toss this out and buy the next one. It really lowers the barrier to entry and execution.”
It’s also the logical next step in Verizon’s overall software-defined networking (SDN) strategy, he explained.
In 2015, Verizon introduced a software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) service. A year later, it began applying network functions virtualization (NFV) to its enterprise customers. Next up: a white-box approach employs a cloud model to deliver services.
“Google, Facebook, those guys, telecom either helps or gets in the way of them delivering their core service,” he said. “So how long do you think they are going to sit with an unhappy user experience in that space? So we’ve got to replicate that.”
‘Apple Versus Android’ Models
AT&T last month said it tested an open source, white box switch carrying customer traffic.
When asked about how Verizon’s offer will compare to AT&T’s, Hakl characterized his competitors’ deploying as “an Apple model,” compared to Verizon’s “very Android model.”
“We are very focused on open,” he said. “That’s the use case customers want. SD-WAN as a foundational software. Open hardware. Our software is much broader. My perception is that they picked more of an Apple model. It’s much more elegantly controlled, end-to-end architecture, using the software stack they picked. We picked a much more open, partner-oriented approach.”
Also from the 2017 NFV World Congress, Verizon announced a new Software-Defined Perimeter (SDP) service that it says allows enterprise customers to proactively identify and block cyberattacks by creating a virtual boundary around their network.
The software-as-a-service (SaaS) works by isolating communications between enterprise applications and end-user devices. It enables rapid identification and prevention of network-based attacks such as denial of service, connection hijacking, and credential theft, Verizon said.
Verizon and security company Vidder wrote the software, Hakl said. It works by taking the application off the public internet and creating a real-time connection between the user and the application that exists only for the duration of that session and then disappears.
“The connection between the user and the application is a one-shot deal, a pipe that exists only for the duration of that session,” he said. “So even if you could find it, you can’t hack it, and even if you could hack it, it will never be there again.”
He said RSA and the Cloud Security Alliance tested the security technology over the course of five public and private hackathons. It survived 15 billion hacks from 104 different countries. “There no breaches at any level.”
Photo: Shawn Hakl, vice president of new products and innovation at Verizon, discusses “Virtual Services for the Enterprise” at the 2017 NFV World Congress.