Perhaps nowhere is the pressure to upgrade network services more acute than in modern telecommunication services providers (telecoms).

These organizations feel constant pressure to provide ever-better services to an insatiable customer base amidst fierce competition. To address this challenge in a scalable manner, many telecoms turn increasingly to network functions virtualization (NFV).

With NFV, network functions traditionally performed by specialized hardware are performed by virtual machines (VMs) running on standards-based high-volume server, network, and storage platforms. This approach allows telecom service providers to scale services up and back as demand changes without overprovisioning their networks with specialized equipment.

Figure 1. NFV moves network functions from appliances to VMs running on standards-based hardware

Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure for Telecoms

Intel and Red Hat are collaborating to build an NFV infrastructure (NFVi) solution to help telecom service providers compete more effectively.

The solution brings the strengths of both companies to bear in serving the business needs of telecom service providers. Intel provides advanced server, networking, and storage technologies; and Red Hat brings hardened, enterprise- and telecom-ready operating systems and virtualization technologies.

This solution provides the following benefits:

  • Cost reduction. The solution can help reduce CapEx and OpEx by eliminating over-provisioning and the need for costly dedicated hardware.
  • Scale. The solution can scale up or out to address a wide range of automated deployment scenarios and conditions.
  • Open infrastructure. Built on standards-based hardware, the solution optimizes interoperability with third-party commercial components. This eases the cost and complexity of managing the network through a broad set of open interfaces with increased operational automation and simplified operational processes.
  • Open development environment. Broadly available to the NFV developer community, the solution integrates foundational open-source community software, such as the Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK), to improve the performance of virtualized network functions (VNFs).

The NFVi solution integrates an advanced microservices architecture to enable dynamic provisioning of VNFs across a wide range of services. It does so by virtualizing workloads, such as router, load balancing, firewall, and deep packet inspection (DPI), to deliver carrier-grade reliability.

The Intel, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and OpenStack Platform

The NFVi solution runs on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.3 atop a foundational layer of physical devices across compute, network, and storage components. This supports a virtual infrastructure manager (VIM) that uses the Red Hat OpenStack Platform (RHOSP) version 10.0 to automate complex network-overlay provisioning and management tasks. A complete NFV system is created from this solution by adding management and orchestration (MANO) components and VNFs.

Figure 2. Components of the Intel and Red Hat NFV solution

The Intel and Red Hat NFVi solution uses open-source assets to enable a highly available, fully converged virtualized infrastructure that can help companies dynamically respond to rapidly changing market conditions. For more information, visit networkbuilders.intel.com and redhat.com/en/technologies/industries/telecommunications.

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