HP today announced a new Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) produce called OpenNFV.

The new program aims to help operators reduce CapEx OpEx, while also speeding delivery of new product and services over the network. HP’s offering includes an open standards–based NFV reference architecture, HP OpenNFV Labs—the company is opening a pair of new innovation centers in the space in Houston and Fort Collins, CO—and a partner ecosystem of NFV applications and services. 

Jeff Edlund, chief technology officer for HP's communications, media and entertainment, said that virtualizing the networks will dramatically change the way operators go about meeting their customers' needs. 

"In order to put an HSF into a carrier environment…you can put one of those in about 6 months," Edlund said. "With NFV and having a virtualized environment, where everything is template-based and can be done 16 minutes." 

Edlund said that 2013 was the year of taking the existing network applications and making sure they could be liberated from hardware and turned into software. 

"2014 is all going to be about virtualizing those applications," he said, adding as we head towards 2015, he sees SDN getting bolted into NFV.

HP is the latest in a long line of companies hoping to get in on the move to virtualizing the networks. Hardware maker Ericsson this month announced a number of products in the NFV and SDN space. 

A number of reports are already signaling the importance of the trend. ABI recently reported that operators in East Asia, including heavy hitters like China Mobile, have been actively supporting C-RAN structure and network virtualization to tackle increasing deployment costs. 

Ken Rehbehn, principal analyst of Yankee Group, notes that software is now just as important as the hardware in a network. 

"As network equipment providers drive software innovation, comprehensive release packaging -- along with tools and processes for rapid software roll-out across massively scaled mobile and fixed networks -- provides operators needed agility to confidently launch new capabilities while boosting network performance," Rehben said. 

Late last year, AT&T announced an ambitious plan to begin "virtualizing" its network, shifting financial resources from hardware to software going forward. The initiative, which is being called Domain 2.0 is integrated through AT&T’s Wide Area Network (WAN) and utilizes NFV and SDN, as well as modern architectural and operational approaches.

HP will be exhibiting its OpenNFV Program solutions featuring proof-of-concept demonstrations at Mobile World Congress, Feb. 24-27, at the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, Spain, hall 3 stand 3A20. OpenNFV Program is available worldwide. Pricing varies depending on client need and customization.