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October 14, 2015

5 companies pushing the boundaries in NFV

List: Learn more about how operators such as BT are virtualising the network.

By Alexander Sword

Network functions virtualisation (NFV) refers to taking functions usually reserved for dedicated network hardware such as routers and implementing them in software that can run on generic computing equipment. As the technology is still emerging, there are many innovations we should still expect to see. Here are some of the companies leading the way.

1. BT

The world’s oldest telecommunications company plans to have a strong stake in the future of NFV, having been involved in research since 2011 and spearheading two industry whitepapers on the topic. The carrier initiated and co-founded the ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group, a forum containing 160 companies, and serves as chair of the network operator council.

On 12 October BT launched a joint demonstration with ADVA to demonstrate how enterprise applications are currently limited by the need to centrally process enormous amounts of data, using the example of CCTV-based video surveillance.


2. Mitel

Mitel’s mobile division (formerly Mavenir) won the NFV Innovation of the Year award at the Network Virtualization and SDN World event in June; this was its third NFV Innovation award in a year. The company’s virtualised solutions are aimed at helping service providers provide services such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE), Voice over wi-fi (VoWi-fi) and rich communications and messaging.

A notable use of the technology is in EE’s wi-fi calling technology, launched in April. Mavenir’s VoWi-fi offers session control, application/messaging servers, access/border gateways, subscriber management/activation systems, and clients.


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3. HP

HP’s contribution to the NFV world is its OpenNFV Reference Architecture, a blueprint for how NFV components can be combined to create NFV solution suites. The platform builds on the ETSI reference architecture and provides processors, cache, operating systems, storage, middleware and other components optimised for NFV processing.

Customers can use the architecture to build an NFV solution to meet their needs, choosing the subsystems and components from the architecture according to their individual requirements. It is also working with Wind River to provide carrier grade NFV solutions.


4. Brocade

Brocade has been heavily invested in NFV research for some time. Last year Brocade teamed up with Telefonica to establish benchmarks for deployment and performance of NFV solutions, and has also collaborated with Intel on an NFV solution and with Intel and Dell on open NFV standards for telecoms providers.

In February this year, the networking company announced that it was launching new NFV research facilities outside London and in Edinburgh, bringing on board some of the UK’s most experienced and skilled engineers.


5. Juniper Networks

Juniper aims to create new business opportunities by providing an end-to-end virtualisation platform. Its approach is to combine NFV with software-defined networking, another emerging technology which allows networks to be controlled through software. Juniper also builds its solutions on open standards to prevent lock-in with vendors.

Its key products include vMX, a virtual router and vSRX, which provides a virtual security solution with AppSecure 2.0. It has also released the Contrail Cloud, offering a SDN and NFV solution to rapidly chain and automate services.

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