ECI CEO: Service providers don't have to throw away hardware to migrate to SDN, NFV

ECI is keen on helping its Tier 1 service provider customers migrate to software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), but it is advocating an evolutionary approach.

"For existing customers, we're saying, look you don't need to throw all of this stuff away and here's an evolutionary path we can take you on protecting that investment and evolving it by giving you applications from the LightApps suite," said Darryl Edwards, president and CEO of ECI, in an interview with FierceTelecom.

In helping service providers migrate to SDN and NFV, the vendor is offering service providers its LightApps suite.

LightApps consists of three elements: LightConnect, LightTime and LightInsight. LightConnect and LightTime allow service providers to offer bandwidth-on-demand services and scheduling services in advance, while LightInsight provides insight on network resources and utilization.

Service providers, particularly the large Tier 1s, have been moving forward with their SDN and NFV plans as a way to reduce network operations costs and enable new on-demand capabilities. AT&T (NYSE: T), for one, says its goal is to virtualize and control over 75 percent of its network using this new architecture by 2020.

Although he would not share any specific names, Edwards says the company is winning customers for its Light Apps software with an eye toward an SDN and NFV migration strategy.

"We're shipping our LightApps software today," Edwards said. "We're winning our first customers with LightApps already, which is basically SDN functionality that we are committed to and can evolve into SDN solutions."

Similar to other vendors like HP, ECI is also embracing an open architecture environment for its SDN and NFV platforms.

Having an open architecture means that service providers won't be locked into one vendor when they want to implement a new feature or service in their network.

"What I am preaching when I meet customers is try to go for open orchestrator level architecture because the company that manufactures the orchestrator and sells you equipment won't be the most open in the industry," Edwards said. "What we're driving hard is work with major OSS vendors so you have an open type network."

Interest in NFV and SDN, while still early, is growing in the service provider community.

A recent Dell'Oro report revealed that a number of large projects at major service providers will start ramping NFV and SDN projects in the next 12 months.  

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