Moving to a software-defined, virtualized networking environment won't happen without tests and trials -- especially as service providers look for the value and performance promises behind network functions virtualization (NFV). Today, Overture Networks Inc. released results of one such NFV test which showed the technology can deliver high performance and support the service provider's real-world, multi-vendor environment which is typical for the New IP.
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Overture collaborated with Integra Telecom Inc.
, Brocade Communications Systems Inc.
(Nasdaq: BRCD), Intel Corp.
(Nasdaq: INTC) and Spirent Communications plc
on the test. The results showed zero packet loss of typical Internet Mix (IMIX) traffic through multiple virtual network functions (VNFs) running software virtual network functions on standard servers with no specialized networking hardware.
Specifically, the tests incorporated various combinations of the Overture Ensemble Carrier Ethernet VNF, Brocade Vyatta 5600 vRouter and Spirent TestCenter Virtual, all orchestrated by Overture's Ensemble Service Orchestrator. Testing was performed on Intel Atom C2000 processor-based servers acting as VNF hosting platforms.
"We were able to achieve the throughput, no loss, and low latency with our pure-play solution using a low-end, less-expensive, COTS server," said Mike Heffner, senior director of technical product marketing, Overture. "We are not aware of someone else doing a multi-vendor, multi-VNF service chain and still generating gigabit performance with that realistic traffic mix."
To date, Overture has been focused on "making NFV real," said Heffner. "A lot of our focus is on building real-world test configurations," he said. "We have had a lot of conversations with our customers like Integra on the type of deployment topology, and the cost profile that they need to prove out the TCO," said Heffner. "Whereas other tests have been on... a high cost-architecture, we are trying to run on a low-cost, mid-range server that would typically be deployed in a virtual CPE type of solution with multivendor VNFs in a service chain, which is what you would see in those types of environments."
Brocade's Ashwin Krishnan, senior director of product management and software networking, told The New IP via email, "The journey to the New IP is replete with business and technology transformation for operators. One of the key technology challenges that comes up is whether NFV performance is up to snuff and can displace high performing and expensive Old IP gear by using state of the art VNFs on standard servers."
Krishnan continued, "With the NFV service chain performance benchmarks that Overture announced, this question has been put to rest irreversibly. This instantly brings forth dramatic CAPEX reductions for the operators and they can march on to New IP transformation having conquered one key technology challenge."
According to Caroline Chappell, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, a number of operators would like to take advantage of NFV, but are not in a position to bring an ecosystem of vendors into their labs to test it for themselves, so these kinds of multi-vendor tests are key to proving out NFV.
"The number of moving parts needed to make NFV work successfully means that operators have to engage and coordinate multiple suppliers and they may not have the budgets/relationships to do this," said Chappell. "A test like this helps operators understand which components can work together to deliver NFV and give useful performance benchmarks -- an indication of what's possible with which vendors," she said, adding that tests like this build confidence in NFV and help accelerate adoption.
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP