65vSE: Successful Unveiling at BTE
Last week Overture participated in Light Reading’s Big Telecom Event, or “BTE,” in Chicago, IL. The event drew 1500 people for its inaugural edition, billed as North America’s premier telecom event. Any first time effort will have its challenges but overall, this was a great event for Overture and, I believe, for the industry.
Light Reading’s CEO, Steve Saunders, aimed to shake up the telecom trade show and conference model, promising to bring together “technology know how and business acumen." As such, BTE did away with traditional static exhibit booths walled off and separated by the ubiquitous tradeshow “pipe and drape.” Instead, the organizers asked – er… required – sponsors create dynamic and interactive demonstrations in an open-air environment. Sounds pretty good, right? We thought so too.
In this over-hyped time for new industry innovations like SDN and NFV, this would give visitors the opportunity to kick the tires and evaluate how “real” some of this stuff really is. Unfortunately, Even some of the industry darlings were simply showing videos in their multi-vendor proof of concept space. Visitors to all of these demo zones must be wondering how much complexity or immaturity the proverbial smoke and mirrors were masking.
For us, the event was the site of a highly anticipated unveiling of our newest innovation, the Overture 65vSE (virtual service edge) platform. Announced the week before BTE, the 65vSE is the industry’s first open Carrier Ethernet platform for hosting virtual network functions at the service edge. At BTE, we were excited to host a live, multi-vendor demonstration of our hardware prototypes running a virtual enterprise CPE application.
For this one, we went totally retro.
When was the last time that a visitor to a communications trade show booth was treated with a demonstration of someone making a voice call across a packet network? It seriously must have been decades. While we don’t talk about it much anymore, it turns out that the VoIP business is still white-hot, with the market for VoIP/Unificd Communications projected to hit $88 billion in a few years
In our demo, we showed our Ensemble Service Orchestrator (ESO) instantiating a number of virtual functions, including – yes – an Asterisk voice PBX, a Brocade/Vyatta router and a Fortinet firewall on the 65vSE and on a server on a simulated customer premise and central office, respectively. In addition to these virtual functions, the 65vSE was running a high-performance software version of Overture’s CE2.0 Ethernet Access Device.
Overture’s demonstration started with our "solution ninjas" providing a big picture overview of the virtual CPE application, describing the benefits of CapEx and OpEx savings, fewer truck rolls, faster time to service and exceptional service agility.
The photo below shows the set up and two of our top solution ninjas, Dr. Ramesh Nagarajan and Scott Vandiver
Our solution ninjas used the backdrop of the network diagram to describe how the solution is brought to life at the metro service edge using Overture’s Ensemble OSA software, which provides the management and control of the distributed NFV environment.
The solution ninjas make it clear that Overture’s Ensemble OSA is focused on the metro service edge, and is typically part of a greater service provider architecture. In that scenario Ensemble OSA is managed by a higher-level OSS/NMS that has visibility into and control over the entire service delivery network.
From there it gets real. Our solution ninjas then moved to the computer and used the ESO user interface to create an end-to-end service, consisting of
- Carrier Ethernet connection between two enterprise branch offices through a central office
- A virtual router running in the central office “cloud”
- A virtual firewall and virtual PBX running in the 65vSE platforms at each of the Enterprise branch offices
To demonstrate that the connections, distributed network functions and end-to-end service was set up and working correctly, the solution ninja picks up a VoIP phone at a branch office and dials the 3-digit number of the VoIP phone on the other brand office location. The phone rings and a brief conversation ensues.
The entire service was created in a matter of minutes.
Interestingly, the Overture demonstration was the only live multi-vendor NFV demonstration at the entire event.These live demos are a lot of work, a little scary, and took our team weeks to prepare for. But I believe in this case, it was worth it.
The response to the demonstration was overwhelmingly positive. The solution ninjas were swamped both days and the interest level from service providers (and other vendors) was tremendous.
“This is Awesome,” one of our existing North American customers said. Another of our customers – a Tier 1 U.S. operator – was so impressed he is now using our terminology “virtual service edge” in his public talks when referencing the notation of hosting virtual network functions at the service edge or customer prem. Still another customer noted that she was asked by several of her peers if she had seen the Overture demo and told “if not, you should.”
While we were surprised to be the only ones with a live demo, we believe it played an important role in underscoring the relative maturity of the Overture solution. No, we didn’t take any orders at the event for the 65vSE or anything else. Nor did we expect to. Nonetheless, we were pleased to have been part of this first Big Telecom Event and plan to return next year.
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