Getting Closer to the Network Virtualization Vision

By Davide Ricci 

Davide_smRecent times have been,
and continue to be, tough times for the networking industry. Data, data and
data…it’s a constant flood of data. And, legacy infrastructure isn’t able to
scale to meet the exponential growth in demand for capacity. At the same time, operators
are trying to introduce new advanced services to grow new revenue streams while also reducing the cost of scaling and operating the network.

Service providers are
increasingly looking at the miracles that virtualization have made possible for
the IT industry – where consolidation of multiple servers has saved money and
increased the provisioning of updates, upgrades, and new software. Software has
been increasingly moving into the cloud, and the delocalization of data and
services is providing new levels of flexibility that benefit the entire industry
and the end users.

The reality is that none
of the technology employed so successfully in the IT space today is a perfect fit
for the needs of network equipment manufacturers.

Requirements such as 6 nines
uptime and high availability can’t really be achieved, unless a virtualized
networking device, a virtual network function, can perform as fast as the
physical device that it is called to replace.

Performance is measured
in latency in response to interrupts and context switches between virtualized
networking devices (the virtual machines).

Just as important, performance
is also measured in the throughput that the virtual switching technology (connecting
the virtualized networking devices) can produce.

If latency and
throughput are not comparable to that of a non-virtualized networking node (usually
built of a control plane and multiple data cards), well, the promise of network
transformation is then more of a dream than reality.

Challenging times indeed.
Until recently…

Earlier this year in
Beijing, Wind River and Intel demonstrated an interesting accomplishment. We demonstrated
a virtual LTE base station performing as fast as the ones that were already currently
deployed. The demo was constructed of virtual machines, and was running on an
Intel multicore Xeon off-the-shelf blade, with the Linux kernel and its Kernel
Virtualization Machine at the core of Wind River software.

Simple as that.

The demo was the result
of joint efforts between Wind River and Intel. We all worked closely with key
networking industry leaders and listened to their requirements, leveraging Wind
River’s deep experience and unique abilities when it comes to the optimization
of software for hardware. That sort of expertise is in our DNA. The demo was
the initial peek into what would become the Wind River Open Virtualization

The Wind River Open
Virtualization Profile is built on top of our Yocto Project Compatible Wind
River Linux
, and provides customers with an optimized preemptible KVM capable
of quickly context switching between virtual machines (average response to
interrupt from hardware to guest OS as low as under 3 microseconds), and an
optimized virtual switching fabric that can deliver packets between guests as
quickly as it can get, thanks to the integration with the Intel®
Data Plane Development Kit.

Using Wind River Open
Virtualization Profile, companies can build high performance virtual nodes,
resulting in the consolidation of multiple physical legacy devices into
powerful off-the-shelf multicore Intel blades.

With the Open
Virtualization Profile, customers can continue to progress down the road to
Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and plan for when network virtualized
functions will be deployed in the cloud and orchestrated by a central
intelligence capable of rapidly deploying and redeploying services based on
data demand, power consumption optimization, etc… A cloud of network
virtualized functions is getting closer to becoming reality.

Consider this – an open
cloud, powered by open source technology and innovation that only Wind River
can deliver.

Virtualization Profile is the latest step in our efforts within the networking
industry. Last fall we announced Wind
River Intelligent Network Platform
(to help accelerate and secure the flood
of traffic for current and future networks), this past spring we collaborated
with Intel to provide Wind River
Open Network Software
(enabling SDN and NFV switching workloads) for their the
Intel Open Network Platform, and now we’ve introduced Open Virtualization

Perhaps the tough times for
the network may not be so tough for much longer.

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