Verizon taps Red Hat and OpenStack for its NFV deployment

A good customer win for Red Hat going into the OpenStack Summit in Austin.

openstack primary

OpenStack Executive Director Jonathan Bryce at OpenStack’s Tokyo Summit in 2015.

Credit: OpenStack Flickr

This week marks the annual North American OpenStack Summit, this year being held back where it all began, in Austin, Texas. When OpenStack began, half a dozen or so years ago, it was focused on giving service providers and large enterprises the ability to compete with Amazon Web Services (AWS). Using the open source OpenStack operating system, organizations could build themselves an "Amazon-like" cloud of their own.

The initiative has, it must be admitted, been buffeted by some strong headwinds -- too many vendors creating similar offerings, too much venture investment in undifferentiated and immature companies, and too much talk (and corresponding lack of action) all hurt the early days of OpenStack.

But since then things have changed: OpenStack now has its own standalone foundation, there is far more maturity around the project and many of those early vendors have gone, leaving behind fewer, but arguably more mature, organizations building businesses on top of OpenStack.

Given where we stand today, it is pleasing to see some significant success stories across the spectrum of OpenStack companies -- from standalone pure-play vendors to large existing vendors that have an OpenStack practice to complement their other business. OpenStack is certainly now a thing.

A good example of these real-world use cases comes from open source stalwart Red Hat. The company is today announcing that Verizon has recently completed the largest known deployment of OpenStack for its network function virtualization (NFV) needs. This deployment covers five of Verizon's U.S. data centers.

The project began in 2015 and created a production design based on a core and pod architecture that provides the capabilities and flexibility necessary to meet what are understandably complex requirements for a telco that needs to deliver agility -- both internally and externally.

This is also a pleasing win since last year at the OpenStack summit in Vancouver, there was much talk about the applicability of OpenStack for these sort of telco NFV use cases. Positive, then, for Red Hat to be able to crow at the summit this year about Verizon's successful deployment.

According to the company, deployments are currently in progress in additional domestic data center and aggregation sites, with international locations to be deployed over the next several months. The design also will be adopted in edge network sites by the end of the year.

It is also a good example of the ecosystem that exists around OpenStack -- Verizon worked with Big Switch Networks, Dell and Red Hat to develop the OpenStack pod-based design that went from concept to deployment of more than 50 racks in five production data centers in less than nine months. That is fast for a telco, and points to the tightening links between discrete OpenStack vendors.

"This NFV project is another step in building Verizon’s next-generation network -- with implications for the industry," said Adam Koeppe, vice president of technology at Verizon. "New and emerging applications are highlighting the need for collaborative research and development in technologies like NFV. We consider this achievement to be foundational for building the Verizon cloud that serves our customers' needs anywhere, anytime, any app."

In terms of the various OpenStack technologies utilized for Verizon, the project is based on OpenStack with Red Hat Ceph Storage and a spine-leaf fabric for each pod controlled through a Neutron plugin to Red Hat OpenStack Platform. The multi-vendor deployment leverages Big Switch for SDN controller software managing Dell switches, which are orchestrated by Red Hat OpenStack Platform.

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