Verizon is advancing its intelligent edge strategy by combining existing service edge routers for Ethernet and IP-based services onto one platform and decoupling router hardware and software via software-defined networking.
By combining devices, Verizon will operate about 70% fewer service-edge routers, Michael Atland, director of network infrastructure at Verizon, told Broadband World News. In addition to the cost savings from a product perspective, this also dramatically frees up time for operations and engineering teams from monitoring and management, he added.
The service provider is using standard, commercial-line router hardware from Cisco and Juniper, Atland said. Verizon partnered with the two vendors to separate software from the hardware so it operates on x86 servers to control the routers, he said. This moves Verizon closer to operating a single, fiber-based network.
"That decoupling is what gives us the scale capabilities so software can scale outside of hardware and vice versa. In the new model, going forward, I've separated the two so I can scale software separately from the hardware; I no longer need to deploy new hardware. Or I can grow the hardware without adding additional complexities by adding new software to the network," said Atland.
"It is part of our overall intelligent edge network strategy," he added. "Bringing the multiple edge devices together and collapsing them into a single platform definitely ties into what we've already messaged about our network strategy."
The initial seeding of the combined routers began earlier this year, a process that will continue into early 2019, said Atland. Migration from legacy platforms onto new devices will continue beyond next year, he noted. Verizon began working with Cisco and Juniper about 18 to 24 months before it started deploying its first seed units, Atland said.
That standards-based strategy -- which ties into the NG-PON2 deployment work Verizon is undertaking with partners ADTRAN and Calix -- is designed to drive efficiencies and flexibility through interoperability, SDN, virtualization and open source. (See Verizon Exec: NG-PON2 Leaves Lab in Early 2018.)
In addition to reducing costs and complexity, it will empower Verizon to accelerate deployment of new services across its entire customer base -- residential, enterprise and mobile -- with faster broadband speeds, enhanced customer experience and a more engaged workforce thatís focused on strategy, not the mundane, Atland said.
While this is a big step forward, the advance does not yet bring telecommunications into the same interoperability world as data centers -- the ultimate goal, despite telcos' additional complexities. But that day is coming, he said, potentially within the next 12 months to 24 months.
"This is set one. Step two and three, going into the future, gets you into a world where you have true disaggregation; where you can take one vendor's software, and run it on a generic white box or generic routing and switching component," Atland explained. "That continues to drive not only cost efficiency into the network, but flexibility in terms of who you work with and how you work with them."
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter @BroadbandWN or @alisoncdiana.