Ensemble, a division of ADVA Optical Networking, has upgraded its network functions virtualization (NFV) platform to enable it to more easily support the trend toward deployment of universal customer premises equipment (uCPE). To prove the point, Ensemble also has revealed that Verizon will use the Ensemble Connector platform to support its recently announced roll out of whitebox uCPE (see "Verizon adds whitebox options to universal CPE line").
Operators are moving toward development and deployment of uCPE as a more efficient approach to NFV roll out than having a different appliance for each application. Particularly in the case of whitebox variants, where operators prefer to drop ship unconfigured systems to the customer premises, operators therefore need a way to provision and operate uCPE via software, preferably from the cloud.
According to Prayson Pate, CTO of the Ensemble Division at ADVA, and Michael Heffner, vice president and product line manager within the division, the new features include support of zero touch provisioning, embedding local OpenStack controllers in each uCPE to create an "embedded cloud" approach to distributing OpenStack beyond the data center, LTE wireless support of provisioning as a backup/alternative to a wired approach, and a design that enables encapsulating NFV infrastructure footprints into a single Intel Atom core. In addition to easing the deployment of uCPE, the approach also supports deployment of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) as a virtual network function (VNF) on a COTS server rather than a dedicated appliance.
"As we expand the number and scope of SDN/NFV-based transformations with our customers, we see significant demand for solutions based on COTS hardware," said Shawn Hakl, vice president, Business Networking and Security Solutions, at Verizon via an ADVA Ensemble press release. "The demand to move from hardware-based services to software-based, cloud-enabled solutions is growing by the day and is only going to accelerate. Ensemble Connector is an important enabling technology for us to bring these solutions to market. This approach allows us to provide our customers with a simple, rapid installation experience and allows them to securely deploy multiple software-based services on a single uCPE installation."
The Ensemble sources see the Verizon win as not only a validation of the Ensemble platform's capabilities but as a sign that NFV is ready for carrier-scale deployment at the network edge in an open, multivendor, cloud-centric environment. With the help of Ensemble Connector, Verizon and other carriers can deploy uCPE with the zero-touch provisioning capabilities they currently enjoy with dedicated hardware appliances, the two pointed out. Pate and Heffner say that several other major carriers are in what they called "fairly advanced stages" of work on similar projects in North America, Latin America, and Europe, as are some smaller operators in Asia.
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