SwissCom picked Ekinops to build a new virtualized network solution for a uCPE (universal customer premises equipment) deployment. The full deployment of the software solution is expected to go live on Swisscom's network early next year.
The solution, which is part of Ekinops' Compose software portfolio, is comprised of Ekinops' open NFVi (network function virtualization infrastructure) and its OneOS6-LIM middleware, which includes the operating system and local infrastructure manager—that allows access to a catalog of certified VNFs (virtualized network functions).
The solution gives Swisscom the flexibility to select a white box vendor of its choice, although Tuesday's press release didn't mention any white box vendors by name. It also allows Swisscom to choose from a range of third-party and Ekinops VNFs, as well as freeing it from vendor lock-in. Service providers have complained that VNFs have been too specific to each vendor while vendors have said it's difficult to build VNFs for each service provider's onboarding process.
With the embedded OneOS6 routing functionality, the solution frees up valuable processing capacity for other VNFs, which leads to more efficient resource utilization and high-speed connectivity of up to 10 Gbps for end users.
As a turnkey solution, the OneOS6-LIM software comes with an embedded design studio for configuration and troubleshooting of VNF service chains. With zero-touch provisioning, it also shortens time to market from design to service delivery, according to Ekinops.
NFV on uCPE enables users to realize the benefits of the cloud by replacing closed appliances with their choice of software that can be hosted anywhere in the network on their choice of open hardware. Aside of lowering costs by using off the shelf x86 devices, white box uCPE deployments also split VNFS apart from the hardware devices.
While uCPE deployments have started to pick up steam, they were initially slow out of the starter blocks due to the integration issues of the various elements and the lack of maturity for the hardware.
The promise of uCPE includes a device that can provide compute, storage and switching capable of executing VNFs such as virtual firewalls, SD-WAN, virtual WAN, virtual application delivery controllers and optimization appliances.
When paired with NFV, uCPE reduces the number of devices on a customer's footprint that are needed to provision services. By using generic network equipment, uCPE reduces costs associated with installation while also giving service providers the flexibility to deploy or update services at a faster pace than traditional hardware.
The flexible nature of software running on standard compute allows multiple VNFs to run on a single uCPE.
“We have been really impressed with Ekinops’ expertise and innovation in branch office connectivity and look forward to delivering this truly open and simple-to-deploy solution” said Reto Baschera, senior vice president of business-to-business marketing at Swisscom. “The agility and close support we’ve experienced with Ekinops has streamlined our migration towards an SDN model, allowing us to future proof our network and expand our service offering.”
In addition to Swisscom, Vodafone, Orange Business Services, Colt, Masergy, AT&T and Verizon have also deployed uCPE solutions, among others. Some of those service providers have already embarked on the second or third versions of their uCPE platforms.