Dell, Red Hat team up on network virtualization

The companies will co-develop OpenStack-based applications for network function virtualization and SDN

Dell is teaming up with Red Hat to drive its effort to be a force in the burgeoning area of network function virtualization (NFV) technology, aimed at helping carriers reduce costs and quickly roll out new services.

Co-engineered Dell-Red Hat OpenStack-based NFV and SDN (software defined networking) applications are expected to be available in 2014, Dell said.

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Traditionally, network functions were run on proprietary equipment. Offering new services meant testing and deploying new specialized appliances, an expensive and slow process, said Gartner analyst Akshay Sharma. Major carriers are interested in NFV because its gives them a standards-based approach to virtualizing telecom applications, allowing them to run on industry standard servers, he said.

Dell already has a history of working with Red Hat. In December, for example, it said it would start selling systems this year that run Red Hat's version of the OpenStack open-source cloud platform. The offerings are to be tailored for large enterprises that wish to set up private clouds.

The company said it is building on that agreement to include NFV and SDN applications designed to help operators increase infrastructure agility and reduce costs.

Dell has also been working since last year with a number of partners, including Overture Networks and EnterpriseWeb, in the CloudNFV project, and is set to raise its profile in the group.

"Dell is officially taking over the leadership of the CloudNFV organization," said Franklin Flint, global enterprise technology evangelist, Dell OEM Solutions. Wenjing Chu of Dell Research will head the project, Flint said.

Dell said it would detail its NFV plans and its cooperation with Red Hat at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week.

NFV will be a hot topic in Barcelona, where a number of equipment makers and software companies are expected to make announcements centered on the technology.

Alcatel-Lucent on Wednesday already announced its own plans to work with Red Hat on NFV. Alcatel-Lucent is using Red Hat's Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform to power the CloudBand platform.

Hewlett-Packard is also expected to detail plans for a new NFV business. Tech news site Re/code reported earlier this week that Bethany Mayer, head of HP's networking equipment business unit, will head a new NFV business.

"Dell is very strong in the data center but it is not as well know in the telco world," Sharma said. Building a partner ecosystem, as it is doing with CloudNFV, is therefore a good approach for Dell, he noted.

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