Dell introduces new NFV platform, starter kits

Dell is moving full steam ahead in the network functions virtualization (NFV) market with the introduction of its new NFV platform and starter kits to accelerate carrier trials and adoption.

"The big challenge right now is: Does the NFV platform get deployed, purchased and serviced by the CTO side of the organization or the CIO side of the organization, and either way, it is a challenge to put it all together because of how the industry is evolving," said Arpit Joshipura, vice president, product management and NFV strategy at Dell.

Pulling all the pieces together with a cohesive strategy is part of Dell's mission. Because it's such a hot market, a lot of startups, proprietary players and legacy vendors have come out with solutions that resemble a big pile of disorganized Legos. "There's a lot of pieces and parts that exist today that the carrier gets overwhelmed with it in terms of putting it all together," Joshipura said.

Dell is trying to address those issues so that NFV can be rapidly adopted, both in trials and actual commercial deployments.

Dell's go-to-market strategy involves going direct to carriers, OEMs and systems integrators/value-added resellers. Over the past 15 years, Dell has established relationships with top operators around the world on the network and IT side of the house. "This is not new for us in terms of relationship and things like that," Joshipura said.

Dell is making the starter kits available for early adopter proof-of-concepts (PoCs) and trials. The kits are smaller footprint Dell NFV platform implementations designed to jumpstart development and PoC efforts. Two configurations are available: one based around the new PowerEdge R630 1RU compute nodes and the other based around the Dell M1000e blade chassis and new M630 compute blades.

Both kits include Dell S6000 10/40 GbE Open Networking platform for feature-rich layer 2 and 3 networking; Dell OpenDaylight-compliant Active Fabric Manager; Dell Active Fabric Controller; Dell Foglight and OpenManage Network Manager; choice of Linux and OpenStack distributions; and options for data plane acceleration and/or service chaining.

Dell said its NFV offering includes the latest server, storage, networking and software technologies from Dell combined with software from open ecosystem partners. Together, they offer converged, virtualized infrastructure designed to execute virtual network functions (VNFs). The Dell NFV platform also includes foundational hardware and open interfaces for Management and Orchestration (MANO).

Of course, NFV is all about partnerships and Dell says it is investing heavily to foster an open partner ecosystem. That includes partnerships to form the Dell NFV platform itself; enable management and orchestration capabilities; and provide support for a range of VNFs.

"From a deployment perspective, the Dell NFV platform can be dimensioned and equipped for application virtually anywhere at any scale in a carrier environment," the company said in a press release.

Dell is a platinum-level founding member of the Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV), a carrier-grade, open source reference platform that debuted late last month. It's a Linux Foundation collaborative project that includes carriers and vendors. It is not developing standards, but it's working closely with ETSI's NFV Industry Specifications Group and others to drive the implementation of consistent standards for an open NFV reference platform.

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