OpenStack specialist Mirantis has launched an initiative to help telecoms providers implement services based on software rather than costly network hardware, using a combination of the OpenStack management framework and virtual appliances provided by network software partners.
The move towards implementing telecoms functions in software running on standard servers rather than specialised hardware is known as network function virtualisation (NFV), and the OpenStack framework is seen as an attractive platform for achieving this owing to its flexibility and open source nature.
Mirantis, which likes to style itself as the "pure play" OpenStack company, is moving to address this opportunity by partnering initially with three firms that have key capabilities in NFV: Metaswitch Networks, Overture Networks and Citrix, which is contributing its widely used NetScaler load balancer and gateway appliance.
Mirantis said its role in the initiative is to provide a hardened configuration of Mirantis OpenStack that is compliant with the emerging ETSI-NFV reference architecture being developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.
However, it is also offering a whitepaper and deployment guide for customers looking to implement NFV on OpenStack, as well as validating specific virtual network functions (VNF) from partners for deployment on Mirantis OpenStack.
"Mirantis and its partners can now deliver a narrow, but expanding, set of validated OpenStack-based NFV solutions that meet carrier requirements for performance and reliability - simply by deploying Mirantis OpenStack and partner NFV/VNF solutions in (admittedly clever) reference configurations on commodity hardware," said Kamesh Pammaraju, Mirantis vice president of product and partner marketing, writing on the firm's blog.
In the case of Metaswitch, this covers the firm's Perimeta Session Border Controller, while for Overture Networks it is the firm's Ensemble Service Orchestrator that provides lifecycle management and orchestration for VNF.
Mirantis also said that it will add key capabilities to its OpenStack build to make it a carrier-grade distribution offering a small physical footprint with high availability, single root I/O virtualisation and other NFV features to support the exacting performance requirements of network services.
The firm is not the only IT vendor that sees NFV as an opportunity to expand into the lucrative telecoms market. Earlier this year, virtualisation giant VMware unveiled vCloud For NFV, while Canonical and Ericsson have struck up a partnership, as have Red Hat and NEC. All of these initiatives are based around OpenStack to a greater or lesser extent.
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