Verizon's Oliveira says vendor partners are 'fully on board' with software-based models

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A Verizon executive says that while the transition to virtual services is a radical shift for the vendor community that traditionally focused on hardware, it is seeing all of its existing and new suppliers embrace the new software-centric model.    

Following in the footsteps of AT&T and CenturyLink, Verizon announced in April 2015 that it started to implement software-defined networking throughout its networks to improve service timeline.

As part of that vision, Verizon initially employed help of five of its key vendor partners: Alcatel-Lucent/Nokia, Cisco, Ericsson, Juniper Networks and Nokia. However, the telco is not opposed to enlisting the help of emerging vendors.

When Verizon launched its SD-WAN service, it named Viptela as a key partner, noting that it would name other partners over time. Under the terms of the agreement with Verizon, Viptela also entered into an exclusive managed services arrangement with Verizon in the United States.

Fred Oliveira, fellow for network technology planning for Verizon, told attendees in a fireside chat about SDN that its vendor partners actually embracing the software-centric vision.

“Our experience with some of these vendors is that they have bought into the environment and see some of the advantages of re-architecting their applications and deploying these in a cloud environment,” Oliveira said. “There are certainly some hiccups with some people that were used to selling hardware and software as an integrated appliance -- that had to rethink how they do that -- but from our recent interactions we see that our vendors are fully on board.”

Shawn Hakl, VP of product and new business innovation, said that traditional and emerging vendors may be coming from different points of view, but both camps are equally motivated to provide software-centric solutions.

“We have the option of using some pretty exciting new vendors so we do have a great set of partners that are really forward looking, but also there are some forward looking folks out there,” Hakl said. “You have folks like Versa and Viptela who are putting solutions on the table where they have rethought how to deliver this technology and setting a standard on how it should be done.”

That’s not to say that some vendors haven’t had to rethink their strategies.

Cisco, for instance, announced in August that it would lay off 14,000 employees, or nearly 20 percent of its workforce, a move that sources say is related to the vendor’s transition from hardware to software-centric products.

The vendor, which has been named as one of Verizon’s preferred SD-WAN suppliers earlier this year, has been enhancing its portfolio with software centric elements by purchasing various companies like Tail f.

Hakl said that having new innovations from startups and established vendors provides Verizon with a greater set of assets to tap into as it moves forward with its SDN and NFV plans.

“When you couple that with a set of experienced vendors you bring a tremendous amount of intellectual property to the table like our friends at Cisco, Fortinet, Palo Alto, and Riverbed,” Hakl said. “All of these vendors have moved to the new world leveraging their old intellectual property and finding a new delivery model along with folks that have rethought from the ground up.”

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