Hosted service vendor Telco Systems is hoping to make it easier for businesses to buy cloud-based routers and firewalls, but the company first has to convince service providers it's a good idea.
Virtualization has already changed how enterprises build and manage their IT infrastructure, and now mobile operators are looking at doing the same thing, and vendors are re-architecting their products. Two areas that are ripe for moving from hardware to hosted environments are security and network equipment, according to telecom vendor Telco Systems.
The purported advantages to businesses are the same as with other cloud-based services. IT departments at businesses of all sizes won't in this case have to install and manage routers and firewalls, an increasingly complicated task as both product categories are becoming more advanced.
One thing that could be easier with cloud-based router or firewall functions is managing the transition to IPv6. The operational practices built up over many years for IPv4 networks will have to be adapted for IPv6, according to the Internet Society, while new practices will need to be developed for dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6 environments. IT departments could in part avoid this by moving network resources to the cloud.
To help companies move some network functions into the cloud, Telco Systems has developed two products for service providers to manage and resell to their customers: vFirewall and vRouter. The first application is based on Check Point's firewall and security technology, and lets service providers centrally manage instances for their users. The vRouter application virtualizes Layer 3 routing functions and will replace hardware used on customer premises.
The applications run on Telco Systems' NFV (network functions virtualization) platform, CloudMetro. NFV is a concept that promises to make it easier for mobile and fixed network operators to launch new services by virtualizing their infrastructures. What started as a white paper from experts at operators such as AT&T, Verizon, China Mobile, Orange and Deutsche Telekom has become a key part of every vendor's product strategy.
For enterprise service providers, routers are probably going to be the first functions to be virtualized, and are likely to become common because today they are a big barrier to introducing new services, according to Dimitris Mavrakis, principal analyst at Ovum.
"NFV is a little hyped at the moment, but it will take off regardless of that. But whether that happens in 5, 10 or 15 years is another question," he said.
For businesses that think hosted and virtual routers and firewalls sound like an interesting proposition there are already products available. The Vyatta virtual firewall and router runs on Amazon's cloud, for example.
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