HP hopes to boost NFV with new technology partner program

HP announced that leading telecom organizations have joined the HP OpenNFV Program as technology partners to help carriers take advantage of network functions virtualization (NFV) technology.

The HP OpenNFV Program technology partners include 6Wind, Brocade, Genband, Intel, the Israel Mobile & Media Association, Mellanox Technologies, Spirent, SK Telecom and Wind River. The announcement was made at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress being held in Dusseldorf, Germany, Oct. 14-17.

At the Mobile World Congress trade show in February, HP introduced OpenNFV, an NFV program designed to help the telecom industry accelerate innovation and launch new services faster, easier and with less expense.

Since then, not much has changed in the sense that things are moving along as planned, said Werner Schaefer, vice president of HP's NFV business. "We're full force going forward with the plan that we had announced," he said. "We have made good progress with the partner program," with more than 100 independent software vendors (ISVs) lining up with hopes to be in HP's labs.

"We are on time with the lab program," he said, with labs in Houston, Grenoble, France, and Ft. Collins, Colo., all up and running. Labs in Tel Aviv, built in collaboration with Israel Mobile & Media Association, and in Seoul, South Korea, in collaboration with SK Telecom, will open this fall.

HP is involved in more than 20 different proof of concepts with carriers around the world. "We're very confident that from a reference perspective, we're on the right track, we have what the carriers want and we will refine that even further with the technology partners that we're working together with," Schaefer said. 

HP is also moving forward even though it had some significant management changes in its NFV unit. This past summer, the company saw the departure of Bethany Mayer, who had led HP's foray into NFV but left to become president and CEO of Ixia. Before Mayer's departure, however, HP announced the addition of Prodip Sen as CTO of its NFV business unit. Sen was director of network architecture for Verizon and the first chair of the ETSI Industry Specifications Group (ISG) for NFV.

​In August, Saar Gillai was appointed general manager of HP's NFV business, in addition to his role as senior vice president and COO for the HP cloud business. While at HP, Gillai has pioneered the technology vision and implementation for software-defined networking (SDN) in products such as HP Virtual Application Networks. Prior to HP, he spent seven years at Cisco Systems in a variety of positions, including vice present of engineering for the wireless networking business unit. 

Schaefer said HP already has seen some revenue in NFV, but in terms of how fast NFV gets deployed, he doesn't expect any significant national rollout by a carrier until probably the second half of next year.

Getting NFV deployed requires efforts like the program that HP announced this week. "NFV is such a huge change for the telco industry that I do not believe any one company in the world can say 'we can do it all,'" he said. "I think the question is who has the best ecosystem, and that's what we are trying to build."

HP is working closely with the nine companies in the new HP OpenNFV Program, he said. Participants in the OpenNFV Partner Program receive access to NFV SDKs, APIs and resources to enable application testing and readiness for carriers.

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Article updated Oct. 15 to include more information on the management of HP's NFV business.