Edgecore Networks and Volta Networks unveiled the results of a partnership this week, where Volta's cloud-native virtual routing software can run on Edgecore's open networking switches, enabling network operators to reduce total cost of ownership.
Each switch supports up to 255 virtual routers, and the devices support industry-standard routing protocols and carrier automation.
The first product combo resulting from the two vendors' efforts is Edgecore's AS7316-26XB cell site gateway switch with the Volta Elastic Routing Engine (VEVRE). Earlier this year, both Volta (software) and Edgecore (hardware) were finalists for Telecom Infrastructure Project's (TIP) Disaggregated Cell Site Gateway (DSCG) technical specification. The DSCG technical spec defined open and disaggregated white-box cell site gateway devices for operators' mobile sites as well as multiprotocol label switching, Layer 2 and Layer 3.
Cable operators as well as telcos are becoming more interested in disaggregated routing, Volta Vice President of Marketing Hugh Kelly told Broadband World News.
"One of the reasons for this is that 4G crosshaul and 5G will push IP into the service edge much closer to the customer. This will require a massive increase in the number of locations that need carrier-grade routing. However, the aggregate bandwidth per device will decrease as well. Thus, service providers are specifying their hardware requirements and expect an order of magnitude cost reduction that matches the order of magnitude increase in locations," he said.
"Edgecore has platforms suited to [fiber and fixed wireless access] applications and our routing software is compatible with them. This allows customers to mix and match the hardware that best meets their needs while using the same cloud-based routing across all of them."
Virtual routers will -- eventually -- play a bigger role within providers' broadband infrastructure, Rajesh Ghai, research director for Carrier Network Infrastructure at International Data Corp. (IDC) told Broadband World News via email. Deployment won't happen fast, however, he noted.
"It will be slow going initially because communication service providers are in general conservative about new architectures. But if they see success in their initial POCs [proof-of-concepts], then the ramp-up could be much faster," Ghai said.
The size of this market is meager compared with traditional, proprietary and standards-based hardware routers, though it's expected to grow fast. By 2023, the global virtual router market will reach $331.5 million, up from $116.8 million in 2018, according to one estimate; another puts the market at $327 million by 2023.
In stark contrast, worldwide total enterprise and service provider router market revenue grew 3.4% year over year in the second quarter of 2019 to $3.96 billion, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Router Tracker."
Currently, several providers are testing out Volta's virtual routers as they seek cost-effective, speedy solutions for applications such as service edge, RAN sharing, network splicing and using fiber to serve enterprise customers, particularly small and midsized enterprises that have not been on-net, Kelly said. Other opportunities include 5G, smart home, connected enterprise and IoT across verticals such as manufacturing, hospitality and healthcare, he said.
"By running the control plane in the cloud, we can scale processing at the lowest possible cost. By running the control plane in a cloud-native deployment, we provide a single point of control for the network with support for industry standards like NETCONGF and YANG," said Kelly.
"We are seeing a great deal of testing by service providers right now. Much of this is driven by the need to reduce costs with projects like 4G crosshaul," he added. "However, 5G will be necessary for new sources of revenue as carriers expand from connecting consumers and their devices to enterprises paying to connect things."
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.
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