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Networking suppliers are scrambling for a slice of the business generated from communication service providers (CSPs) virtualizing their networks to reduce hardware costs.
Much of the vendor activity was centered this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, where Cisco and VMware introduced CSP products.
Meanwhile, Brocade Communications Systems said at the show that it would acquire Connectem to add its virtualization technology to Brocade's products for software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), two initiatives well underway within CSPs.
Why CSPs are ready to buy
While network virtualization was a concept at last year's MWC, suppliers this year are selling SDN and NFV technologies that meet CSPs' business requirements, IDC analyst Elisabeth Rainge said.
"Key CSPs are moving forward with network virtualization plans, because the business requires a network platform with lower TCO [total cost of ownership] and much greater flexibility," Rainge said. Sales of SDN and NFV products to CSPs are expected to continue rising at least through 2016.
VMware introduced vCloud for NFV, which combines OpenStack support with the virtualized computing, networking and storage in vCloud.
Components within the new product include NSX, VMware's network virtualization platform. NSX exposes logical firewalls, switches, routers, ports and other network elements to allow virtual networking among vendor-agnostic hypervisors, cloud management systems and associated network hardware.
Other features in vCloud for NFV include a software-defined storage area network and VMware's cloud management product called vRealize Operations.
VMware is also including its OpenStack distribution called VMware Integrated OpenStack. The component will let CSPs phase in the open source framework for managing cloud services and virtual private servers.
VCloud for NFV with Integrated OpenStack is scheduled to be available by the end of March.
Cisco Mobility IQ
Cisco introduced Mobility IQ, a cloud-based analytics service for Wi-Fi, 3G and Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network activity. The service provides intelligence useful in spotting trends that could lead to new services for customers, according to Cisco.
The product can provide analytics for three types of business scenarios. First is network operations, which can get a picture of the overall health of networks and their application programming interfaces. The tool is meant to help spot and address problems.
Marketing departments can get information on mobile subscriber behavior through location paths and social media activity. "Such insights can provide additional value to existing offerings," Cisco said.
Finally, CSPs can use IQ to provide to retailers and stadiums with intelligence based on data taken from mobile devices used in their facilities. Retailers, for example, can use the service to compete against online product prices shoppers find while in stores, Cisco said.
Mobility IQ is hosted on Cisco Cloud Services.
Brocade ups SDN, NFV game
Brocade is transitioning from a SAN provider into a supplier of SDN and NFV technology. The company has made three acquisitions in as many years in the space, including Vyatta, Vistapointe and Riverbed Technology's SteelApp product portfolio.
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