WASHINGTON, D.C. — Verizon is working on a large trial of “white boxes” that use commodity server technology to deliver next-generation networking and telecom services, according to several sources.
“Verizon has made a massive push for bare metal,” said one source involved in the trial, who asked not to be named because of his involvement. “Bare Metal” is another term referring to the Software Defined Networking (SDN) trend of implementing networking technology on white-box server platforms.
“They have a huge initiative under way,” says the source. “They can reduce their costs massively.”
The vendors for Verizon include Cumulus for the Linux-based network operating system (OS), Pica8 for switching software, and Juniper for routing and switching technology that helps tie the network together with VXLAN technology, according to two separate sources close to the trial.
In a related development, a Verizon spokesman here at the Metro Ethernet Forum’s GEN14 conference confirmed that Verizon has based its new Verizon Cloud network on white-box server technology. Dawane Young, Division VP with Verizon, said the Verizon Cloud is built on a server-based platform supplied by Super Micro (SMCI), using SDN switching technology. The Verizon Cloud includes the integration of data-center acquisition Terremark, which Verizon bought in 2011 for $1.5 billion.
These are big moves by Verizon, confirming that SDN and white-box networking is for real and is getting closer to broader deployment. Verizon may be accelerating its moves because it was starting to appear slow in moving next-generation SDN, while AT&T has been heavily publicizing its moves with its Domain 2.0 program.
White boxes, whereby networking technology can run on standard servers rather than dedicated networking hardware, are one of the hottest topics of discussion in the networking world because of the potential for disruption to the existing networking hardware and software markets. The Verizon moves adds to the buzz, as the global service provider operates one of the largest networks in the world.
This is generating a heated discussion at Cisco and Juniper as they plot their future strategies. The internal debate at Juniper, recently focused on that company’s huge business with Verizon, may have resulted in the recent resignation of former CEO Shaygan Kheradpir, rumored to be connected with a negotiation with Verizon. A new source on that front says that Kheradpir was more pro-SDN than the existing Juniper management, which is more conservative about protecting its installed base.
Regardless, the Verizon architectural shift is likely to amplify the debate in the IP routing community, as new startups make a push to sell their server-based SDN technology, potentially displacing Cisco and Juniper. It does appear that Juniper, which has a large installed base at Verizon, is still part of the picture, but Verizon’s more aggressive moves toward SDN may force the company to consider how aggressively it is embracing SDN.