Red Hat and NEC Corporation have formed a partnership to jointly develop network function virtualisation (NFV) features in the OpenStack cloud computing framework, with a view to delivering carrier-grade solutions using Red Hat's build of the OpenStack platform.
Interest in NFV is growing in the telecoms industry, as the technology holds the promise of replacing costly fixed function hardware used to power network services with software running on x86 server systems.
This could not only make it more cost effective to implement key network services, but allow telecoms firms to be more innovative and quicker at bringing new services to market.
Red Hat and NEC aim to deliver a reliable, open and scalable cloud platform for communications service providers (CSPs) based on OpenStack, helping them to take advantage of NFV's full potential, the two firms stated.
NEC is already a major supplier of hardware and software defined networking solutions to telecoms firms.
"NFV offers tremendous potential to transform the telecoms industry and radically change the way CSPs deliver solutions to customers," said Tim Yeaton, senior vice president of Red Hat's Infrastructure Business Group.
"NEC has long appreciated the power of ‘open', and has always been an excellent partner. Through this expanded collaboration, Red Hat is excited to help meet CSP interest in NFV and open source cloud platforms - and more specifically OpenStack - as they look for solutions to drive costs down and deliver new high value offerings."
The collaboration will focus on integrating NEC's NFV system with Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack to deliver mobile packet core virtualisation, also known as virtualised Evolved Packet Core, as well as virtual Customer Premises Equipment.
NEC and Red Hat plan to continue the partnership and feed the fruits of their efforts back to other open source communities, including OpenStack and the Open Platform for NFV.
Meanwhile, the OpenStack framework seems to be a key focus of interest for NFV, because of its 'open' nature that allows users to plug in the functionality and capabilities they require.
In fact, NFV was a key area of debate at last year's OpenStack Summit in Paris, where representatives from telecoms firms expressed enthusiasm for the platform. However, they said that more work needed to be done in areas such as the volume of throughput in packets handled per second, native tools to manage the data centre hardware at the bare metal level, and full integration testing, especially for software updates.
In an earlier interview with V3, OpenStack Foundation executive director Jonathan Bryce and chief operating officer Mark Collier said that enhancements would also need to be made to the Nova compute module and the underlying hypervisor, (typically the Linux KVM) in order to deliver the real-time response required for many telecoms services.
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