VMware is amassing its telco-knowledgeable talent in an effort to boost its profile in network functions virtualization (NFV).
The effort has been incubating at the company for about two years, but now VMware — previously focused on enterprise software — is putting more muscle behind its telecom efforts. Among the latest moves was the hiring of Gabriele Di Piazza as vice president of telco NFV products three-and-a-half months ago.
Di Piazza has worked in the telecom businesses of Microsoft and the old Hewlett-Packard Co. Most recently, he led products and marketing for Guavus, a big data analytics startup.
His group is in charge of products such as vCloud NFV. But the group is also tasked with being the telco ear for VMware’s flagship products, such as vSphere and vCloud Director, informing those product groups about what’s required for NFV.
“We are product-managing telco features into our core platform,” Di Piazza says.
That means that, for the first time, carrier-grade features have been added to those core products. Carrier-grade support for the NFV suite — including products such as vSphere, vCloud director, and NSX — launched to general availability on July 1, Di Piazza says.
He has also assembled a team to work on end-to-end NFV designs, targeting the use cases that VMware has encountered the most, including IMS, the evolved packet core (EPC), and voice over LTE (VoLTE).
This design work, which is in its early stages, is warranted because “the change with NFV is more radical than people thought,” he says. The traditional telco model involves testing equipment thoroughly before deployment. NFV, on the other hand, is about throwing applications into the cloud and chaining them together; it’s a different universe.
VMware also hopes to contribute to open source efforts. The company plans to demonstrate some extensions to Open Source MANO (OSM) at that group’s October meeting in Santa Clara, California. This work has proceeded with help from Telefonica, whose NFV management and orchestration (MANO) code is at the foundation of OSM. Finishing touches to the code were being applied last week.
The idea is to offer some of VMware’s virtualization expertise to the project. OSM is a new initiative, and some of its specifications display the least common denominator effect; they’re too general, Di Piazza says. VMware hopes to give the project a little more punch.
VMware’s NFV Pieces
VMware’s interest in NFV comes from a few directions. The company does think its virtualization know-how can help the NFV cause. But there’s also this: Server virtualization is past its peak as a growth market, and VMware has to start cultivating other businesses — hence, its deep interest in the cloud.
Di Piazza’s group is relatively new, but the company has been involved with NFV for some time. For example, the VMware environment has been suitable for the compute elements of NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and is in more than 70 deployments, Di Piazza says.
VCloud Director and VMware Integrated OpenStack can each be used as a virtual infrastructure manager (VIM). The company also offers vCloud for NFV, a prepackaged cloud platform. (Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Juniper have introduced similar offerings.)
On the MANO front, VMware plans to put Arkin to use. The startup, acquired in a deal announced in June, already showed some of its mettle, as it’s a part of the Cross-Cloud Architecture that was the centerpiece of the VMworld product announcements.
Di Piazza also has plans for having VMware’s software talk to telco OSSs. “I want to be the best company to pull this data and serve it up to service assurance systems,” he says. (Service assurance is an ongoing check-up on the health of an application, and it’s a particular fascination of Di Piazza’s. He says he helped Guavus move its business beyond analytics and into the area of service assurance.)