BARCELONA, Spain — VMware boosted its telco network functions virtualization (NFV) and hybrid cloud play at Mobile World Congress with new software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and other capabilities built into its telco NFV platform.
The virtualization giant — in partnership with other Dell Technologies’ brands — also showcased its efforts to help service providers adopt hybrid cloud environments and use containers and cloud-native apps. Although at a press conference today, Gabriele Di Piazza, VMware’s vice president of solutions in the telco NFV group, admitted the latter will likely occur at least a few years from now.
“There will be an evolution toward cloud native, and I think edge will drive this whole containerization of VNFs (virtual network functions),” he said. VMware also today announced new edge computing products as part of its Internet of Things (IoT) strategy.
“When you go from tens of data centers into tens of thousands at the edge, you will need different environments…virtual machines and containers,” Di Piazza added. “I think a two- to three-year timeline for the transition to containers and a little more toward true cloud-native applications. This is a major investment for VMware this year.”
VMware bought Wavefront, a monitoring company, last year, acquiring the startup’s software that can monitor applications in containers. Expect to see “Wavefront and container management baked into our NFV” in the future, Di Piazza said, adding that this will simplify container management for telcos.
VMware NFV Stack Adds SD-WAN
Last year at Mobile World Congress VMware debuted its telco NFV platform, called vCloud NFV 2.0, which included a slew of products and features: vCloud Director, the vRealize suite of analytics tools, and VMware’s own OpenStack distribution, VMware Integrated OpenStack.
It now also includes VeloCloud’s SD-WAN.
“We are incorporating VeloCloud Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN as part of our telco NFV platform and stack,” Di Piazza said. This allows telcos to provide SD-WAN managed services to enterprise customers — and opens up a new revenue stream for the carriers, according to VMware.
VeloCloud Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN can be deployed as a turnkey service or as a VNF on customer premise equipment.
Clouds and Containers
The telco NFV platform also now supports containers and cloud-native apps. VMware vCloud NFV-OpenStack brings native support for container-based VNFs through integrated container management. This enables virtual machine- and container-based VNFs to run on a single virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM).
Additionally, Pivotal Container Service (PKS), developed with VMware and Google, enables service providers to deliver production-ready Kubernetes on VMware vSphere environments and Google Cloud Platform. Pivotal is another Dell Technologies’ brand (Dell Technologies owns about 80 percent of VMware), and the two companies first announced the container management product at last year’s VMworld event.
VMware is also trying to make it easier for telcos to integrate with public clouds through VMware Hybrid Cloud Extension, which allows service providers to extend their VMware-based environments to Amazon Web Services (AWS) via VMware Cloud on AWS. This allows telcos to expand to new locations without retooling.
VMware’s Telco Push
Since launching its vCloud NFV platform last year, VMware, traditionally an enterprise company, has made a serious push into the telco market. NFV plays a big part in this push, and VMware now has more than 50 dedicated telco virtual applications and 50-plus service provider customers “using VMware for their network transformation,” according to Di Piazza.
The company announced a win with Vodafone as a new NFV customer during its second quarter fiscal 2018 earnings call.
And this week at Mobile World Congress, VMware and Vodafone demonstrated how carriers can build a hybrid telco cloud by stretching applications, core network services, and connectivity from private core data networks to public cloud infrastructure on VMware Cloud on AWS. This on-demand infrastructure capacity can benefit service providers during overflow scenarios such as traffic bursting, and automated VNF workload migration between multiple distributed cloud environments, Di Piazza explained.
“We have taken the VMware NFV platform with a full core implemented, and we have replicated the same mobile core across multiple public cloud locations, demonstrating how you can have network continuity and manage bursts and overflow with global coverage,” he said. “This same vCloud NFV architecture can be a shared cloud environment that takes and powers VNFs across many data centers, moving applications such as mobile core and 5G while also hosting typical compute applications.”