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For telcos, deploying open source network functions virtualization (NFV) is proving more cost-effective, agile and efficient, that's according to a new report by ACG Research, sponsored by Red Hat, Big Switch Networks, F5 Networks and Dell EMC. The report found the five-year cumulative total cost of ownership, or TCO, of an open architecture platform to be $22.7 million, which is roughly half (53 percent) of the $43 million TCO for a tightly bundled platform (defined by the report as a stricter coupling of elements in a design, often bound by a proprietary implementation).

ACG report consolidated TCO comparison Cumulative TCO of the Open Architecture and the Tightly Bundled pods


With telcos clamoring to increase network agility, mitigate costs and accelerate new service delivery, the timing is right to compare the effectiveness of alternate infrastructure designs. The ACG Research report, titled Creating Agility & Efficiency at Scale: The Economic Advantages of Open Architecture Platforms in NFV Deployments provides a detailed comparison of an open architecture implementation platform, or pod, versus a tightly bundled pod. The findings are based on extensive comparative analysis and testing done by a prominent Tier 1 service provider when evaluating options for its national services infrastructure.

The provider zeroed in on a number of solution attributes it believed held the most value in building out the foundations for its platform, including:

  • Open architecture – using the OpenStack API and other published APIs as well as information modeling frameworks (i.e., HEAT and Ansible)
  • Versatility – multiple kinds of networks to interface with, multiple kinds of VNF workloads to support and diverse topologies for service delivery across many sites
  • Elasticity – multiple dimensions of scaling dynamically/on-demand within a pod/site and across multiple sites
  • Software-driven – pervasive use of software-based provisioning and control, as well as application enablement/deployment, with functional integrations based on open architectures
  • Best-in-class economics – using open hardware architectures where possible, open source ecosystems on many dimensions, and sophisticated functional designs for the domain expertise being captured in each supplier's contribution, such as software-defined networking, compute, storage and security
  • Multi-tenant framework – a CI/CD-PaaS environment that dynamically supports the needs of many business units and application suppliers across a common, programmable, virtual systems infrastructure

The Tier 1 service provider's open architecture design included a number of products—physical servers, virtual machines, network-attached physical storage, virtual storage, physical and virtual network fabric, management and security software—from Red Hat, Dell EMC, Big Switch Networks and F5 Networks. The open architecture platform was compared with generally equivalent functionality in each NFV infrastructure (NFVI) category in the tightly bundled platform design. This design included a mix of blade and rack servers for its compute requirements, and the network fabric was tightly coupled with its server infrastructure.

In addition to TCO value, the report also found capital expenditure to be 47 percent less with an open architecture platform than that of the tightly bundled platform. And data showed that operators can deploy three times as many new revenue services per year in the open architecture platform pod when compared to the tightly bundled pod, enabling more continuous innovation and new service delivery.

acg-report-cost-of-new-service-creation Costs of New Service Creation in the Open Architecture and the Tightly Bundled pods


Plenty of savings found in the design of the pods based on open source are mentioned throughout the report. In fact, the cost of design time was $199,053 for the open architecture pod versus $269,129 for the tightly bundled pod. Much of the savings in the provider's reported results were derived from a decreased amount of personnel time.

According to ACG's report, the feasibility of deploying more cloud-native designs is now exiting the proof-of-concept phase and entering early stages of general-purpose production deployments. As shown in the ACG analysis of the Tier 1 service provider's deployment, the advantages of the open architecture platform design provide a compelling justification. New services can be introduced much more quickly, and the cumulative TCO is far less. Each of these outcomes makes a material contribution, enabling an operator to become a more continuously innovative and valuable supplier of services to its customers.

Red Hat offers a comprehensive, open-source platform to support an open architecture. Built from the ground up on open source technology and combining Red Hat Enterprise Linux with Red Hat's OpenStack technology, the Red Hat Open Stack Platform is designed to deliver a scalable foundation to build and manage an open private or public cloud. When paired with Red Hat CloudForms' open, hybrid management for workloads and infrastructure as well as Red Hat Ceph Storage's highly redundant, software-defined storage, Red Hat OpenStack Platform is an integrated, optimized, and managed foundation for production-ready clouds.

Learn more about how telco service providers are implementing Red Hat technology for a competitive advantage on our telecommunications industry page.

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