Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is the most popular virtualization offering at Verizon. Victoria Lonker, director of network product management and innovation with Verizon, referred to SD-WAN as the “low-hanging fruit.” Now, the service provider is making plans to add more virtualized services, including session border controllers as-a-service and virtual probes.
“Right now SD-WAN is limited to the enterprise side,” said Shawn Hakl, VP of product and new business for Verizon, in a call with reporters this morning. But he said Verizon may also use SD-WAN within its own network to “flex resources in the core.”
Lonker added that SD-WAN is a popular virtual offering, and that “it’s mature.” Security via its new software-defined perimeter offering is also doing well. In addition to virtual session border controllers and virtual probes on the roadmap, she said, “you might see some things on the blockchain front.”
Verizon Opens Up
AT&T has been pretty transparent about what it’s doing to virtualize its networks, and now Verizon seems to be following suit.
Asked if Verizon’s SDN/NFV Reference Architecture is parallel to AT&T’s ECOMP, Fred Oliveira, a fellow in network technology planning with Verizon, said the two are somewhat equivalent. But Verizon’s document “is a little more from the architectural perspective, not so much a service definition and deployment model.”
As far as what Verizon is doing for management and network orchestration (MANO) within its telco cloud, Oliveira said, “We have not yet announced what our solution is. We’re evaluating vendors. We have one in-house we’re evaluating.”
The company is taking its time with MANO because it doesn’t want to simply apply existing management techniques to a virtual environment. “Virtual needs to come from the cloud and data center side,” Hakl said. “We’re slower to jump the gun on a significant decision. We want to make sure we’re deploying on a model that’s [aligned] with the technology.”
Verizon is gaining some MANO knowledge from its SD-WAN offering. Hakl said it’s more about what the end user is experiencing. “We’re looking at the topology of that application, and understanding the API, and mapping from the end user,” he said.
Verizon’s telco cloud — the basis of its virtualization efforts — is built with OpenStack. “We believe that OpenStack is the de facto standard,” said Oliveira. “All the app vendors and management environments are moving toward support for OpenStack.”
The company is sending its engineers to participate in the various SDN and NFV open source groups. In addition, Oliveira said, “We believe in standardization, and there’s a lot to be gained. In certain circumstances, we can’t wait for standard organizations to complete their documentation, so we’ll take some risks and deploy some functionality with preliminary versions. But we plan to update as standards become approved.”
SD-WAN Is an Ice-Breaker
SD-WAN has turned out to be a great way to introduce customers to SDN and virtualization in general. SD-WAN is available now, and it’s proven to work.
In addition, Lonker said, “I’m finding that customers have experienced virtualization in the data center, and they’re less afraid of it in the network than you might think. NFV is happening as customers do technology refreshes to add services more quickly.”
Verizon predicts that it and its customers will operate in a hybrid world for many years. And Verizon expects to earn ongoing business helping customers manage vCPE and physical CPE in those environments. “They seem to like the as-a-service model, and we can manage their applications to ensure consistent policies across their entire infrastructure,” said Lonker.
The Verizon executives on today’s call said SDN and NFV have sped up product deployment times from up to 500 days in the past to, now, as fast as 65 days. In addition, customers are using these same technologies to increase the speed and agility of their own businesses.
And customers no longer have to design their networks for peak capacity. They can design them for average capacity, taking advantage of network-on-demand functionality.
Verizon is building its telco cloud and moving forward with virtualization across all its networks, both wireline and wireless, in one architecture. “Every business unit participates,” said Hakl. “We’re leveraging the scale across all the business units. It’s much more efficient capital planning and deployment.”