Mobile World Congress Highlights SDN and NFV

Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) captured a lot of attention at the recent Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona.

With the networking industry in a tranformative phase, communications service providers are at the forefront, hooking up the exploding universse of mobile users.

In fact, showing the importance of the new technologies, research firm Frost & Sullivan provided a list of key takeaways from the conference, listing "SDN and NFV gaining traction" as No. 1.

"The over-arching themes of this year's conference were the shift in network topology with technologies such as SDN beginning to take hold, virtualization (NFV) ... " and several others, the company said.

Conference headlines about the industry's disruptive technologies were led by virtualization leader and SDN/NFV early adopter VMware Inc., which unveiled VMware vCloud for NFV, an integrated platform combining VMware's compute, networking, storage and management virtualization products with OpenStack support.

"With support for more than 40 different virtual network functions (VNFs) from more than 30 vendors, VMware vCloud for NFV is the only platform available today that runs different VNFs from different vendors side by side on the same unified platform for the cloud," the company said of the new solution targeting communication service providers (CSPs).

Sonus Networks Inc., a real-time cloud communications specialist, introduced Sonus IQ, enabling customers to incorporate security and intelligence into communications networks as part of a "New IP" architecture implementation. That new-age technology is described by Wikipedia as "a highly virtualized, software-driven IP network, using SDN, NFV, open platforms and open source innovation, to simplify network processes, increase flexibility and control from users, and provide an alternative to traditional networks based on IT-centric architectures."

"Sonus IQ leverages the capabilities of both virtualization and SDN to enable customers to evolve to a secure real-time communications network with the ability to provision voice, video and data services intelligently when and where it is needed," the company said. "The ability to offer Session Border Controller (SBC) or Policy functions only when necessary, along with the ability to adapt the network to the specific requirements of a real-time session, allows service providers to lower both operational and capital expenses."

Equinix Inc., an interconnection and datacenter company, announced it has added Cisco Systems Inc.'s Tail-f Network Control System (NCS) to its technology toolbox based on the Equinix Programmable Network, which provides the foundation for its Cloud Exchange that connects multiple clouds. "This technology enables the automated network and service provisioning for cloud providers and their enterprise customers that Cloud Exchange has become known for," the company said. "Tail-f Systems, now part of Cisco, provides multi-vendor service orchestration and network automation solutions based on NETCONF and YANG."

While SDN and NFV are transforming the networking industry with technologies designed to enact automated real-time changes, this effort has introduced a new set of problems, said FusionLayer Inc., which unveiled its IP Address Management (IPAM) solution called FusionLayer Infinity.

"The industry consensus right now is that server workloads, network services and networks themselves will be automatically deployed and configured by a collection of purpose-built orchestrators and controllers," said CEO Juha Holkkola. "Since all these orchestrators and controllers will have to co-exist inside shared and often overlapping networks, this development necessitates a new management and provisioning layer in the Software-Defined Datacenter (SDDC) stack that enables interoperability between them all. Some people call it magic -- we call it FusionLayer Infinity."

Also making SDN news recently -- though not at Barcelona -- was Docker Inc., which announced it was acquiring SDN integration specialist SocketPlane just months after the startup was launched last December.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.