Ciena offers open, distributed NFV approach for network edge

Ciena (NYSE: CIEN) is using this week's MEF16 conference to debut what it asserts is an open, distributed approach to network functions virtualization (NFV) enabled services delivery. The company has participated in a proof-of-concept demonstration of the approach at the show in partnership with Blue Orbit Ecosystem partner RAD and Ciena BizConnect partner CenturyLink.

Ciena (NYSE: CIEN) is using this week's MEF16 conference to debut what it asserts is an open, distributed approach to network functions virtualization (NFV) enabled services delivery. The company has participated in a proof-of-concept demonstration of the approach at the show in partnership with Blue Orbit Ecosystem partner RAD and Ciena BizConnect partner CenturyLink.

The approach leverages Ciena's Blue Planet orchestration platform and a pair of new products: D-NFV Infrastructure (D-NFVI, with "D-NFV" short for "distributed NFV") software and the 3906mvi including its pluggable x86 NFV Server Module. The D-NFVI software comprises three components:

  1. the Ciena Base Virtualization OS, which includes Ciena-supported distribution of a virtualization operating system for x86 hardware; it includes the base Linux OS, Kernel-based Virtualization Machine (KVM) hypervisor, and Linux Container (LXC) support.
  2. the Ciena vSwitch, which provides MEF CE 2.0 functions via a Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK)-accelerated vSwitch for service function forwarding.
  3. the Ciena D-NFVI Agent, a virtualized infrastructure management solution based on direct orchestration that provides an OpenStack alternative optimized for the D-NFV use case.

The D-NFVI software runs on platforms such as the 3906mvi as well as other COTS servers. The new 3906mvi will come in three variants with differing capacity levels, ranging in support for from one to four or more virtual network functions (VNFs).

The combined offering aids the deployment of such virtual network services as software-defined WAN, IP routing, firewalls, and encryption, Ciena says.

In the proof-of-concept demonstration at MEF16, which the participants titled "Multi-Vendor Service Orchestration Using Open APIs for Service Activation, Performance Monitoring, and NFV," attendees saw on-demand orchestration of end-to-end Carrier Ethernet and NFV-based services with multiple vendor vCPE devices. These last included the 3906mvi as well as RAD's ETX-2i NFV-enabled NID. Both RAD's RADview domain management and Ciena's domain controller formed part of the setup, with the CenturyLink-led open source initiative to develop APIs and resource adapters within the MEF LSO (Lifecycle Service Orchestration) framework forming the foundation.

"This showcase aligns perfectly with the MEF focus on enabling dynamic 'Third Network' services," said Jack Pugaczewski, CenturyLink distinguished architect. "It shows how the use of open APIs simplifies delivery of on-demand, orchestrated, and assured services. The ultimate objectives are to maximize the end-user's control of their network resources and cloud connectivity based on their specific needs, while standardizing management interfaces so we, as the service provider, can build best-of-breed networks without the huge IT overhead of yesteryear's proprietary networks."

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