Verizon shows off OpenFlow’s benefits for carriers

Verizon is one of many companies at the Open Networking Summit.

Verizon is one of many companies at the Open Networking Summit.

Verizon has created a partnership with Intel, HP and networking company Adara┬áto help test and understand the benefits that OpenFlow and software defined networks could have on its business. The nation’s largest wireless carrier has been a supporter of OpenFlow, and is a founding member of the Open Networking Foundation. The end goal for the carrier is to use software defined networks to eliminate some costly complexity from its network.

Verizon’s demonstration, done on HP gear that uses Adara’s technology (HP is a commercializing Adara’s networking software for the enterprise), highlights how OpenFlow could be used to deliver personalized consumer services, such as personalized data plans. The demo is running at the Open Networking Summit being held this week in Santa Clara, Calif. Verizon is also demonstrating how to move large amounts of data through its network and from one data center to another, which sounds similar to what Google is also doing with OpenFlow.

Stu Elby, Verizon VP network architecture and technology, characterized the project as part of a virtual innovation center between participants, and said the concept of the center is a way for Verizon to test out some of its ideas. What struck me about the partnership and his language, was that Verizon seems to be creating a structure that is well-known to carriers when it comes to deploying new technology, but is somewhat foreign for the data center and web world, where OpenFlow and software defined networking is also being tested.

But the divide between carrier networking and data center networking is narrowing as both sides face problems associated with scale and increased complexity. The causes of that complexity may be virtualization in the case of data center operators, and a rise in data demand from disparate and varying places for the carriers, but programmability is the perceived cure. So in addition to making running a data center less complicated, maybe OpenFlow can lower your phone bill –or at least Verizon’s costs.

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