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Sonus Networks virtualizes more of its appliances for NFV

Sonus Networks expands its network functions virtualization efforts with virtualized diameter signaling engines and policy controllers. It also integrated with Juniper's Contrail controller.

SIP communications vendor Sonus Networks has virtualized more of its appliances to support network functions virtualization initiatives and it has integrated its virtual session border controller with Juniper's Contrail SDN controller for NFV orchestration.

Sonus introduced a virtual version of its session border controller (SBC) a year ago. Now it is offering virtual versions of its policy engine -- the PSX SWe Centralized Policy and Router switch -- and its SIP signaling controller, the Diameter Signaling Controller (DSC SWe).

"We see a need to move all our applications to software and let our customers decide -- do they want to move to a purpose-built platform to meet specific performance requirements? Or [should we] let them deploy on COTS [commercial off-the-shelf] servers?" said David Tipping, vice president and general manager of Sonus' SBC business unit.

Many network services vendors, both SBC companies and others, are virtualizing their appliances to fit the NFV requirements that service providers are setting for them, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst of ZK Research. Some companies have struggled to virtualize their platforms because their software has too many hardware dependencies written into it. "A lot of code interfaces within the hardware has to be rewritten to make it not as hardware dependent," he said.

Sonus has apparently navigated these hurdles well. "They have a consistent code base across their [appliances and virtual] products," Kerravala said. "For customers, that provides an opportunity to start with a small virtual appliance, and if you need a dedicated appliance later, you can do that. It creates a lot of flexibility."

Sonus, which kicked off an SDN partnership with Juniper Networks last year, is now demonstrating the integration of its virtual session border controller with Juniper's Contrail SDN controller.

With this integration, enterprises and service providers can better optimize their networks to support voice and other SIP sessions. Tipping said Juniper's Contrail controller has visibility into packets while Sonus' SBCs have visibility into sessions. By integrating the two, the infrastructure can map packet flows to sessions and make better decisions on how to run SIP sessions across the network, he said.

"A number of financial services companies build out their networks to only 40% utilization because they fear that something like video would overwhelm their architecture and inhibit trades and hurt their business," Tipping said. "Our SBC sets up video sessions and knows how much bandwidth they will use. We can signal the Contrail controller to say, 'Hey, do we have the bandwidth to do this high-definition video?' If we do, we allow the call to go through. If not, we can modify the session [for standard definition]."

Sonus will need to integrate with more SDN vendors, Kerravala said. The combination with Juniper Contrail is just the first step. As service providers embrace NFV, they will want SBCs that work with a variety of controllers to help them orchestrate virtual network functions, he said.

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