Playing no favorites yet, Verizon announced this morning that Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, Juniper, and Nokia Networks are all helping with the SDN effort. Those are pretty much all the biggest telecom equipment vendors, save Huawei and ZTE, Chinese vendors that are effectively shut out from U.S. carrier networks.
The vendors are not just providing equipment; Verizon tapped them to draw up reference architectures and to settle on interface specifications. The high-level plan really does sound like SDN: Verizon will direct network flows by using centralized controllers (logically centralized, most likely, and distributed) and orchestration platforms.
Verizon’s press release is light on specifics, including the timeframe for actually implementing anything out of these five (soon to be four) large vendors. The carrier told Light Reading that something “meaningful” would come out by 2016.
Verizon was quick to embrace SDN back around 2012, when the concept was still focused mostly on the data center and on OpenFlow. Verizon first saw possibilities for carrier SDN as a cost-saving measure. But after playing with the technology, officials began opening up to the possibility of new, SDN-driven services.
A particular champion of that idea was Stuart Elby, then vice president of network architecture, who saw the potential for carrier SDN to bring telcos into the cloud era. Elby has since left Verizon to join optical networking vendor Infinera.
Verizon’s cited reasons for adopting SDN are the usual: faster delivery of services (particularly enterprise services), the promise of operational automation, and more fluid capabilities for deploying or redeploying resources.