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VMware makes NFV telco play by snuggling up to OpenStack

If it can be virtualised, Virtzilla wants it

MWC 2015 VMware has clambered aboard the network function virtualisation (NFV) bandwagon with “vCloud for NFV” - and has announced that Vodafone has been in production with the software for a while.

NFV is presented as a key technology for telcos as they become less tolerant of services tied to particular pieces of tin and the attendant slow update and deployment cycles that come with physical infrastructure.

Slow deployment of tools like firewalls, for example, is hard to endure at a time when customers are likely to ask for a virtual circuit that lasts anywhere between an hour, or a week.

The ability to whip up a virtual firewall for a customers who order temporary connectivity is therefore desirable to today's telcos, who are also wondering how they'll deliver voice-over-LTE without the ability to spawn lots of applets to handle voice that passes over data instead of dedicated circuits.

Whatever uses carriers find for NFV, it's a market VMware can hardly ignore. Hence the launch of vCloud for NFV, a bundle that includes vSphere, VSAN, NSX and vRealize Operations. There's also hooks galore to OpenStack because, as explained to El Reg by Shekar Ayyar, a corporate senior veep and leader of VMware's Telco NFV Group, VMware thinks telcos will find the open source cloud stack attractive and VMware needs to be able to host and/or play nice with the apps they deploy there.

VMware's spiel remains that OpenStack is a fine thing, but that it's most easily managed by Virtzilla's offerings.

Vodafone has apparently run live services on the new product: Ayyar said VMware has 30 NFV users already. He offered less detail on exactly what's inside the newly-launched suite, compared to VMware's other offerings, but it does include “purpose-built management packs to meet the unique requirements of communications service providers.”

Ayyar said VMware considers the NFV market to be at “an early stage” but he's also seen numbers suggesting a total addressable annual market of between eight and fifteen billion dollars.

For several quarters, VMware's been telling investors it's doing everything it can to get into markets adjacent to its core business of server virtualisation and associated management tools. This NFV play, and its announcement at Mobile World Congress, looks another effort to diversify its business. ®

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