Verizon VP Shawn Hakl told SDxCentral about the white box plans earlier this month at NFV World Congress, prior to the company’s official announcement. But Verizon has been tight lipped about which vendors’ technologies it will deploy on the uCPE.
Also today, ADVA announced an upgrade to its Ensemble NFV technology, with new features targeting telcos. It said the software-based Ensemble product suite has been specifically optimized for the simple, low-cost deployment of uCPE in a cloud-native fashion.
The new features will allow service providers to combine multiple virtual network functions (VNFs) onto a single uCPE rather than stacking separate boxes. They also include LTE wireless support and zero-touch provisioning, which means service providers can ship white box hardware directly from the suppliers to customers.
Asked if ADVA is working with other service providers on similar white box offerings?
Mike Heffner, vice president of the Ensemble Division at ADVA, said, “Yes. There’s probably three or four other large, tier-one companies we are doing similar things with. We’ve taken lessons learned with Verizon over the last several months into competitive tender activities with these other tier ones. We’ve found there’s a lot of similarities between the big guys in what they are doing to become more agile, more efficient. White box is key.”
This does seem to be the trend among service providers. An IHS Markit report, published in Jaunary, found 85 percent of operators plan to deploy physical uCPE at a location to run VNFs.
And at the OpenStack Summit last week, the Open Compute Project (OCP) told SDxCentral that when its telco working group meets this week, it plans to discuss uCPE. Both Verizon and AT&T belong to the OCP telco group.
Ensemble NFV Technology
Heffner and Prayson Pate, CTO of the Ensemble division, said Verizon chose the software for a number of reasons. Verizon wanted true white box support and Ensemble’s technology can be used with multiple white box suppliers.
“The zero touch means they can ship directly to a customer, and the LTE wireless support means they can turn up sites that don’t yet have a wireline connectivity — a really innovative feature,” Pate added.
Another new Ensemble Connector feature: it shrinks the footprint of NFV infrastructure, including the embedded cloud, down to a single Intel Atom core. “Verizon wanted to be able to scale way up and way down,” Pate said.
Additionally, the software is the only NFVI technology on the market that embeds local OpenStack controllers in each white box, the company said. This enables the Ensemble Connector to “call home” using the most suitable access available and automatically configure customers’ virtualized services without any need for pre-configuration or onsite visits.
Verizon’s Shawn Hakl, VP of business networking and security solutions, said the white box uCPE and Verizon’s partnership with ADVA stem from customer demand.
“As we expand the number and scope of SDN/NFV-based transformations with our customers, we see significant demand for solutions based on COTS [commercial off-the-shelf] hardware,” Hakl said in a statement. “The demand to move from hardware-based services to software-based, cloud-enabled solutions is growing by the day and is only going to accelerate. Ensemble Connector is an important enabling technology for us to bring these solutions to market. This approach allows us to provide our customers with a simple, rapid installation experience and allows them to securely deploy multiple software-based services on a single uCPE installation.”