Last month, carrier grade virtual routers were launched by Juniper and Alcatel-Lucent, aiming to meet the demand from telcos for Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) [see article] and Software Defined Networking [see article]. Virtual routers have been around since the Vyatta open-source solution emerged in 2006, aimed at replacing Cisco routers in data centers. Brocade bought Vyatta at the end of 2012 and launched the carrier grade Vyatta 5600 router in September 2013, to sit alongside the Vyatta 5400 router aimed at enterprises. Meanwhile, Cisco launched a range of virtual routers in 2012; its Cloud Services Routers are designed to provide organizations with a guaranteed all-Cisco environment from the branch office to the cloud. At the other end of the scale, there are virtual router downloads available for Windows. These allow you to replace a broadband router with an application running on your PC, as well as create a Wi-Fi hotspot wherever you take your laptop.
Although virtual routers are more likely to be deployed by carriers and cloud providers, NFV should bring new service offerings to enterprises. The carriers are still evaluating the technology to ensure that it meets performance standards, but the tools are rapidly evolving and initial tests are promising.
Brocade's press release reports Telefonica's experience with a virtual router this August. "In less than two hours, we deployed the Brocade Vyatta 5600 vRouter from a memory stick and completed our performance tests in our NFV Reference Lab. These results are allowing us, as network operators, to aggressively change our perspective regarding what is possible with software-driven networking in order to accelerate the adoption and deployment of these revolutionary technologies," said Francisco-Javier Ramón, Head of Telefónica NFV Reference Lab.
If carriers make the most of the flexibility that virtual routers can bring, it should become possible to order a new service for a specific project and have it up and working within hours. This is preferable to signing up for a long contract and then waiting for a new box to be delivered and configured. Scisbo will bring you these services as soon as they appear and meanwhile, if you’re looking for flexibility, we can help you find the best of the current carrier offerings.