Here comes bare metal and NFV for the enterprise

On the heels of AT&T's plan, Pica8 and Ciena offer commodity switches and virtual network functions as CPE

Two hardware vendors this week unveiled products to bring commodity switching and network functions virtualization (NFV) to enterprises through service providers.

Bare metal switch supplier Pica8 this week rolled out a Power-over-Ethernet switches to be sold into enterprises by service providers as managed service customer premises equipment (CPE). And Ciena announced availability of the 3938vi Service Virtualization Switch, an Ethernet CPE platform with virtualized network function (VNF) integration.

PoE CPE Pica8

The offerings address a desire by service providers, like AT&T, to sell bare metal white box switches into the customer premises for cost, flexibility, performance and SDN programmability advantages, and to offer service as VNFs on that hardware. Pica8 says this market – bare metal as CPE – is six months old and that this week’s PoE offerings are merely the latest in an existing CPE portfolio to onboard enterprises to the cloud.

+MORE ON NETWORK WORLD: AT&T looking at white boxes as CPE+

Pica8 already offers MPLS Labeled BGP, 100G switches, network virtualization, OpenStack and VXLAN support for a variety of CPE, data center and service provider use cases. But PoE is essential for offering on-premises enterprise services like VoIP and Wi-Fi, Pica8 says.

Pica8 is offering two 48-port Edge Core Gigabit Ethernet bare metal switches, meaning they do not come pre-loaded with an operating system like Pica8’s PicOS. The Edge Core AS4610-54P switch supports PoE and has 4x10G SPF+ uplinks, and runs Broadcom’s Heilix-4 ASIC.

The non-PoE Edge-Core AS4610-54T, which has the same configuration, is also supported. This switch lists for $1,989 while the PoE version lists for $2,519.

Ciena already offers customer premises VNFs on commodity off-the-shelf hardware through its Agility Matrix product line. Now they can be provisioned through the “carrier-grade” 3938vi.

The 3938vi is a 10G Ethernet switch pre-loaded with Ciena’s Service-Aware Operating System (SAOS). VNFs for it can be purchased from Ciena’s cloud based VNF market.

The switch supports the following interfaces: 22 x 10G RJ-45 ports; 2 x 1/10G SFP+; 8x10/100/1000M RJ-45; 8x100/1000M SFP; 1x10/100/1000M RJ-45 management port; and one console port (RJ-45, EIA-561). Here are links to its data sheets, services, and other specs.

VNFs are deployed by the service provider through Ciena’s Agility Director, which generates on-the-fly licenses for the VNFs and manages their end-to-end lifecycle on the host.

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