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Changing Perceptions of the NFV Opportunity

by KenCheng_1 on ‎12-16-2013 05:00 AM (15,272 Views)

Like many areas of information technology, data centers continue to move away from monolithic and closed architectures to increasingly virtualized, dynamic and open environments. Understanding the evolving needs of our customers is why Brocade acquired virtual routing pioneer Vyatta in 2012.


Coincidentally, around the time of the acquisition, some of the world’s largest service providers issued the now famous Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) white paper and formed the ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group (ISG) to drive its adoption. While many vendors endorsed the move – including Brocade – some vendors, experts and users questioned whether or not servers could handle the workloads of purpose-built boxes.


Virtualization of network functions, such as the Brocade Vyatta vRouter, has been around for years and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) were the first to recognize the potential for this disruptive technology. The ability to deploy elastic and efficient infrastructure at a lower cost enables CSPs to offer enhanced services to their customers, providing a strong differentiator over competition. Case in point: Rackspace and SoftLayer (an IBM Company) – two of the world’s largest clouds – deliver higher value routing and security services with the Brocade Vyatta vRouter. In seeing the success CSPs are experiencing with virtualized network functions, NFV solutions are starting to be more broadly deployed in enterprise environments in order to achieve similar benefits.


The acquisition of Vyatta gave us a talented team of engineers who understand SDN, virtualization and NFV technologies and the market dynamics driving adoption. While competitors attempted to catch up, Brocade continued to move ahead and change the landscape again with the introduction of the Brocade Vyatta 5600 vRouter, the first telco-grade virtual router delivering 10Gb/s per x86 core and capable of scaling linearly with each additional core.


This innovation in virtual technologies has started to convince industry thought leaders that NFV’s addressable space is much bigger than originally thought.


For example, Infonetics Research’s Michael Howard recently published a report where he discussed if NFV was ready for primetime.


Here are a few excerpts from his report:

When I first started learning about network function virtualization (NFV) and software defined networks (SDNs), I assumed that there was an inherent limitation in servers that would restrict the types and location of NFV… Maybe I was naïve, but what [the Vyatta group at Brocade] achieved blows my mind….


Similar to others, he initially had skepticism that these “white boxes” possessed enough networking power:

For a long time now, I’ve discounted general-purpose servers, thinking that they were not capable of performing any heavy duty network functions, and that they should be relegated to places in the network that are closer to broadband consumers—where latency and some delay wouldn’t matter much…  But after speaking with Vyatta, it appears my initial assumptions about using servers for NFV have been proven wrong.


The bottom line:

The success of NFV depends on ensuring that operators can leverage its benefits anywhere within the network, whether it’s at the edge or deeper in the network at traffic aggregation points. The fact that Vyatta’s multicore approach is enabling the virtual router to perform at a line rate of a 10GE interface tells me that NFV can be used effectively in more locations in a carrier network than I first thought. This performance delivered by virtual routers and flexibility to leverage them in various parts of a carrier’s network will be extremely beneficial as networks scale.


Technologies such as NFV and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) have injected our industry with new excitement not felt since server virtualization was first introduced. While the Brocade Vyatta 5600 vRouter is a significant achievement, it is only the tip of the Brocade software networking iceberg. Needless to say, Brocade is excited to be at the forefront of this movement and we look forward to working with our customers to deploy these technologies.


Download Michael’s full report here: