Verizon adds ADVA’s Ensemble to uCPE white box solution, sets focus on multivendor configurations

Verizon has taken the next step toward its white box service vision by naming ADVA Optical Networking’s Ensemble Connector as part of its universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) solution.

During the NFV Congress trade show last week, Verizon announced an open source white box solution that runs services from multiple vendors, including ADVA Ensemble.

As the next stage in its own virtual open networking drive, Verizon is using ADVA’S Ensemble Connector as its network functions virtualization infrastructure on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) white box servers.

RELATED: Adva Ensemble SmartWAN platform helps service providers simplify SD-WAN, virtual service deployments

ADVA’s Ensemble Connector’s zero touch provisioning enables Verizon to drop-ship servers directly from the COTS supplier to the end customer, simplifying supply chain logistics. Ensemble Connector further simplifies operational processes with access to a large collection of virtual network functions.

“As we expand the number and scope of SDN/NFV-based transformations with our customers, we see significant demand for solutions based on COTS hardware,” said Shawn Hakl, vice president of business networking and security solutions for Verizon, in a release. “The demand to move from hardware-based services to software-based, cloud-enabled solutions is growing by the day and is only going to accelerate.”

Prayson Pate, CTO of ADVA Optical Networking, told FierceTelecom that Verizon reflects the vision that the telecom and IT industries envisioned when they started down the path toward SDN and NFV.

“What’s interesting about this deployment is Verizon took the view that every layer of the architecture is going to come from a different supplier or suppliers,” Pate said. “They have a set of low-cost white box atom servers, blade servers and we are providing the NFV infrastructure or what they refer to as the network operating system.”

Agile service activation, management

Verizon’s uCPE solution was built to provide end customers the ability to more rapidly scale and provision new services such as security services and private networking services.

Service providers, which are looking to work with various partners, will also be able to enhance their SD-WAN offerings. As a software-based managed virtual application on a white box server, a service provider could designate SD-WAN services for each customer segment.

By embedding local controllers in each COTS white box, ADVA claims Ensemble Connector can improve OpenStack scalability and manageability. At the same time, the ADVA Ensemble software can help Verizon and other service providers maintain network security. During the initial service turn-up process, Verizon would have the customer enter a password on the server device to verify the customer’s identity.

“One additional piece we added is this notion of authentication,” Pate said. “Verizon would send the customer some code to enter, which would verify not only it’s the right box that’s supposed to be on the network, but is it the right place and right customer who's designated and authorized to turn it up.”

While there’s a lot of talk about how a virtualized network infrastructure is making service providers more efficient, Verizon is seeing customers asking for these open network solutions.   

“It is interesting that open networking has spread beyond the operators,” Pate said. “At the NFV World Congress, Shawn Hakl from Verizon cited that their large enterprise customers were demanding white box solutions.”

Pate added that the reason enterprises want open networking systems is that it would reduce the cost and time to replace traditional hardware-based appliances at each premise.

“Customers know that any service based on an appliance means that to change the service you have to change the appliance,” Pate said. “If you want to move to a model with your operator with innovative services on demand, that means you need an open cloud-centric model, not appliances.”

Unlike an appliance which is tied to one service, the open software service model leverages servers that could be used at other sites or for other services like IP VPN or firewall.

“In some cases, the end customer has to buy the equipment, and if they buy an appliance and they move away from that service it’s a sunk cost,” Pate said. “If they’re buying servers, the servers can be repurposed, so it’s not only innovation, it’s investment protection.”

Multiple access options

Most large businesses have a diverse set of needs at each site, meaning they will require multiple wired and wireless access methods. ADVA’s Ensemble Connector provides support for wired and 4G wireless LTE connections.

This enables the Ensemble Connector to “call home” using the most suitable access available and automatically configure customers’ virtualized services without any need for preconfiguration or onsite visits. Being able to support wireless 4G LTE means that a Verizon customer can immediately get up and running if their service provider has not immediately provisioned a wireline connection.

“LTE support lets them turn up the service, even if there’s not wireline access,” Pate said. “While we have been able to provide airline tickets and tennis shoes overnight, telco services take 6 weeks, so now Verizon can drop-ship a device, turn it up and get it going on LTE.”

Pate added that as “wireline access comes in, the LTE could be backup or provide incremental bandwidth for on-demand services or whatever use a business customer wants.”