Dell unveils scalable NFV platform and starter kit

IT giant Dell is seeking to apply its infrastructure and virtualization knowledge to the telco vertical with the launch of its NFV platform and accompanying operator starter kit. Dell intends to differentiate its offering by using open standards and ecosystem partners to maximise the platform’s scalability and flexibility.

“We’ve seen the carriers looking and testing NFV a lot this year, since SDN was standardised,” Dominique Vanhamme, head of networking at Dell EMEA told “Within their infrastructure there are a lot of ‘single-function’ appliances, which are devices that are serving a specific need. The standardisation isolated 12 network functions and the question is can they be virtualized.”

Vanhamme insists Dell offers a favourable alternative to many of the NFV implementations currently on offer. “The current reality is a ‘block-by-block’ type of infrastructure, as provided by the typical infrastructure vendors,” he said. “Our announcement is to say there’s another way. We believe we can provide the infrastructure platform, in partnership with a few other players, and then provide starter kits to the carriers to speed up the deployment.”

The key, says Vanhamme, is scalability. One of the key benefits of NFV to operators is the greater agility and flexibility it offers them, and Dell thinks this should extend to every part of the network. “We believe we have a very scalable solution,” said Vanhamme. “We provide from small to very large, from remote point-of-presence sites up to the core carrier datacentre and any layer of the network in between. If you don’t provide that platform scale you basically defeat the virtualization perspective.”

As you can see in the above diagram, Dell is not claiming to provide the functions themselves, rather the infrastructure underneath them and the orchestration layer. It is closely allying itself with the newly-launched Open Platform for NFV Project (OPNFV) as well as key partners such as Intel and Red Hat. Dell NFV platform and associated starter kits will be globally available at some unspecified time in this quarter.

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