ZTE is working with Red Hat to ensure ZTE’s virtual network functions (VNFs) interoperate with the Red Hat OpenStack Platform. The collaboration stems from a request from a mutual telco customer of the two vendors.
ZTE already has a homegrown virtualization platform for the NFV infrastructure (NFVi) layer. ZTE’s NFVi is based on OpenStack with customization. “Mutual customers are asking for ZTE VNFs to be available on our OpenStack platform,” said Radhesh Balakrishnan, general manager of OpenStack at Red Hat. “Customers want to mix and match at all layers.”
Balakrishnan said the driving factor for the collaboration was an Asian telco that wants to use ZTE’s VNFs but Red Hat’s OpenStack platform. He was not authorized to name the telco, but it’s likely China Unicom that recently announced it was working with Nokia on a cloud-native core network, which uses Red Hat’s OpenStack.
About a dozen of ZTE’s VNFs have achieved certification with Red Hat OpenStack, said Balakrishnan. He stressed that there are three layers of a network virtualization stack: the infrastructure layer (NFVi), the VNFs, and the management and network orchestration (MANO) layer. “ZTE is not offering our OpenStack platform,” he said. “This partnership is about the VNF layer.”
ZTE says it has deployed over 320 commercial and pilot virtualization projects around the world.
For its part, Red Hat has similar relationships in place with Ericsson and Huawei. These vendors also have their own NFVi but work with Red Hat if customers want Red Hat’s OpenStack for the infrastructure layer.
Balakrishnan sees a trend for telcos to prefer a fully open distribution of Open Stack. “If you look at NFVi, if you go back a couple of years ago, one camp believed in the upstream-first innovation model — Verizon is an example,” he said. “They’re one of our largest customers. They wanted to avoid technical debt and no vendor lock-in.”