Brocade, VMware Enable NFV Solution for US based Smartsky Networks

Brocade and VMware, are enabling NFV driven Air to Ground broadband network for US based SmartSky Networks.

As part of this deployment, SmartSky is building a cutting-edge air-to-ground broadband network using the companies’ interoperable and pre-certified network functions virtualization (NFV) solutions.

SmartSky is deploying the Brocade® Virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) running on VMware vCloud® NFV™ to implement a new network, connecting more than 250 cell sites strategically placed across the continental U.S. SmartSky’s Air-to-Ground network will provide airborne users with online experiences comparable with those in an office or at home.


SmartSky requires a flexible pan-US network to deliver unique and differentiated services that meet the requirements of its customers. Traditional hardware-defined networks do not scale dynamically in a modular way to provide sufficient connectivity and mobility for SmartSky’s high-speed broadband service running over a large geographic area. The combined NFV solution from Brocade and VMware enables SmartSky to take a software-defined approach to network infrastructure that is more agile, flexible and cost-effective than a hardware-based approach.

“We are building SmartSky’s network from the ground up, enabling us to rethink how a cross-continental air-to-ground network such as this should be built,” said David Claassen, Vice President of Network and Service Architecture at SmartSky. “As we worked through the design, it became clear that using an NFV approach and leveraging commodity hardware for the underlying physical fabric would deliver the best ROI while increasing our service-ability and reducing many of the operational headaches common with traditional hardware-based networks. Brocade and VMware are delivering a combined NFV solution that will help us accelerate our delivery of this unique service offering.”

Brocade’s full-function vEPC offering features independent slices of control, data and session management capabilities. With support for distribution and independent scaling of the control and user planes, the Brocade vEPC provides seamless data service across the continent while eliminating redundant functionalities and internode dependencies. This results in a lower total cost of ownership and increased performance compared to physical node-based packet cores. The Brocade vEPC has achieved VMWARE READY™ FOR NFV status, which provides SmartSky with pre-certified compatibility with the VMware NFV infrastructure.

“Brocade and VMware have collaborated for years as NFV partners, driving performance, scalability and life-cycle management for network functions to customers such as SmartSky,” said Nishi Kant, vice president of mobile networking, Brocade. “Stability, ease of deployment and ongoing management of the Brocade vEPC solution are recurring themes in our customer deployments, and certification of the Brocade vEPC as VMware Ready for NFV gives customers confidence in the interoperability of our NFV platforms.”

VMware vCloud NFV provides a mature, production-proven NFVI platform that enables SmartSky to deploy the Brocade vEPC while meeting the company’s stability and flexibility requirements. VMware vCloud NFV brings together the core virtualization and management components required to accelerate NFV deployment, and enables customers such as SmartSky to deploy a unified, multi-vendor and multi-function NFV platform that supports any application at all stages of cloud evolution. The platform enables IT to leverage existing skills and operational experience with VMware virtualization, providing a faster and smoother implementation and ongoing management of Telco clouds.

“SmartSky is representative of just how transformative NFV can be to customers, enabling them to completely rethink how to build and design services to meet their requirements,” said David Wright, vice president of operations, Telco NFV Group at VMware. “VMware and Brocade continue to align our solutions in the market to make NFV architectures simpler to design and implement, enabling our mutual customers to accelerate NFV adoption.”