Collectively, the products and features involved are being packaged as vCloud NFV 2.0. They include vCloud Director, the vRealize suite of analytics tools, and VMware’s own OpenStack distribution, VMware Integrated OpenStack.
“We now have 45 service providers running some form of VMware technology base in their NFV offering,” Gelsinger said during a pre-keynote press session last week.
The point man for VMware’s NFV effort is Gabriele Di Piazza, vice president of NFV products, who is tasked with making sure telecom needs — items such as fault tolerance and high availability — are represented in the company’s portfolio.
“We are infusing our product divisions with these features,” he told SDxCentral.
The alternative would be to create telecom-specific versions of the products, but that would be short-sighted, Di Piazza said. VMware expects that its non-telecom customer base will eventually want to dip into some of the telecom-related features.
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Bits and Pieces
vCloud NFV consists of roughly a dozen product enhancements around the themes of service automation, operational intelligence, multi-tenancy, and carrier-grade enhancements. Here are a few highlights:
VMware already provided multi-tenancy through the NSX network virtualization offering. It’s now added integration between NSX and vCloud Director to help program security with users’ roles in mind.
Some of the NFV 2.0 enhancements involve further automating NFV processes. VMware will now let users port virtual network functions (VNFs) into VMware Integrated OpenStack, keeping policies intact.
VMware is providing application program interfaces (APIs) to help automate the deployment of NFV infrastructure (NFVI) and is outfitting vRealize Network Insight to provide recommendations for micro-segmentation deployment.
vRealize Network Insight is also playing a deeper role in the feedback loop of network monitoring, helping provide real-time updates on the network, which can then be fed into applications such as service assurance.
Finally, VMware is enhancing more products with carrier-grade features such as high availability, as mentioned above. “Is it the most boring aspect? Yes,” Di Piazza admits — but many carriers consider these features indispensable.
What About Containers?
The company’s vCloud NFV 2.0 discussion at MWC happened to focus on using virtual machines for hosting VNFs, but VMware isn’t ignoring containers.
“We’re not highlighting this right now, but we support both Photon and vSphere Integrated Containers,” Di Piazza said. “We are planning to do something more comprehensive in the future. Support for containers is a check box and is in this release.”
Containers just aren’t that important to VMware’s service providers yet, he added. This market is still wrestling with the transition to the cloud and isn’t quite ready for the whole “cloud-native” thing yet, he said.