Oracle is staking a claim to its share of the nascent market for network function virtualisation (NFV), claiming its network services orchestration platform can deliver carrier-grade performance with network functions running in software on Intel servers.
A demo implementation on show this week at the Oracle Industry Connect 2015 event in Washington is based on Oracle's Communications Network Service Orchestration system with specific optimisations for Intel's Open Network Platform (ONP), a reference architecture based on the chipmaker's Xeon E5-2600 v3 processor family.
Oracle claimed it to be the first successful demonstration of carrier-grade network performance in a virtualised environment, proving that software running on commodity server hardware can deliver the capabilities required by communications service providers while maintaining service quality levels.
"This initiative does more than just optimise Oracle Communications products for the Intel ONP. It takes the theory of delivering carrier-grade capabilities in a commercial data centre and turns it into reality," said Liam Maxwell, vice president of products for Oracle Communications.
"We've proven that we can orchestrate services and network functions from the top of the management and orchestration stack all the way to individual network processors, and we can do it at scale."
Developed in partnership with Intel, the demonstration uses the OpenStack management framework with optimisations such as Enhanced Platform Awareness (EPA), a technology developed by Intel to ensure that workloads are matched to the capabilities of the hardware when firing up a new virtual machine instance.
For example, EPA enables the orchestration and management layer to launch a workload that uses cryptographic functions onto a system that has a hardware-based cryptographic accelerator.
Naturally, Intel's ONP reference server design fits this bill, comprising an Xeon E5-2600 v3 processor, Intel Ethernet adapters and plug-in accelerators such as the Intel QuickAssist Adapter 8950 for hardware cryptography support.
Specific versions of the Xeon E5-2600 v3 family also have features aimed at network applications, such as Cache Allocation. This partitions the on-chip cache so that threads running on neighbouring processor cores do not affect each other, delivering more predictable performance levels.
With these capabilities, the platform offers NFV software adaptability for network functions, while meeting the performance and reliability found in network appliances, according to Oracle and Intel.
"The Intel ONP server combines industry-leading server architecture with open source software to enable quicker delivery of NFV solutions," said John Healy, general manager for the Software Defined Networks division in Intel's Network Platforms Group.
"Our work with Oracle demonstrates how a powerful server can act as the catalyst for end-to-end NFV orchestration."
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