Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Thursday, August 13, 2020
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OpenStack Collaboration Grows Around Network Virtualization 

The virtualization technology that has expanded the capacity of datacenters is gradually shifting to telecommunications and other networks via a growing list of cloud approaches that are enabling software-defined solutions like network functions virtualization.

Cloud vendors, particularly OpenStack backers, along with networking companies are increasingly joining forces to develop scalable platforms that support network virtualization. Some of those partnerships target the telecommunication sector as it seeks to leverage software-defined capabilities.

The latest example is an expanded partnership announced this week between Juniper Networks and enterprise Ubuntu specialist Canonical that will seek to develop carrier-grade OpenStack software. The capability is designed to enable telecom service providers to virtualize core networks and network functions. As part of the expanded partnership, Juniper said it would support Canonical's Ubuntu server operating system and Ubuntu OpenStack as part of the networking firm's cloud offering.

The partnership follows others aimed at expanding network virtualization. Last November, Hewlett-Packard and Intel's Wind River Systems unit announced a partnership to develop new network virtualization capabilities on HP's Helion OpenStack cloud platform. That partnership also targets telecom service providers.

The partnerships are being driven in part by growing demand of data capacity on telecom networks. Hence, network operators are looking to the cloud to boost capacity and agility while automating more network functions.

Juniper and Canonical said they intend to deliver an OpenStack cloud-based tools that would allow carriers to build virtualized IP platforms that support network functions virtualization. The partners will develop a cloud solution that is billed as a carrier-grade OpenStack platform for cloud and converged network function virtualization infrastructure.

The expanded partnership also calls for Juniper and Canonical to jointly incorporate service provider requirements into OpenStack, software-defined network and network functions virtualization open source projects.

"OpenStack networking is a critical issue for large enterprises and service providers to solve, particularly in higher-level areas such as network functions virtualization, agility and automation," noted Jay Lyman, an analyst with 451 Research.

Canonical also heads up an OpenStack Interoperability Lab focused on integration and testing of its cloud partners' platforms running on Ubuntu OpenStack configurations. The partners said the integration lab would perform automated testing of Juniper's Contrail cloud platform with Ubuntu OpenStack.

Similarly, partners HP and Wind River said they targeting network function virtualization as telecom carriers look to build capacity and agility by leveraging the cloud and software-defined networks. In the run up to the HP-Wind River partnership, Wind River began certifying its networking and communications software on HP's ProLiant servers.

Both partnerships indicate that the slow transition to software-defined networking in general and network functions virtualization specifically is likely to be driven by different implementations of OpenStack.

Network carriers "understand the value of OpenStack technology as a part of their NFV strategies — whether that’s in terms of saving costs or just avoiding lock-in,” noted Peter Jarich of market tracker Current Analysis.

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