Alcatel-Lucent today announced a significant expansion of its Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) efforts.
Manish Gulyani, VP of Product Marketing at Alcatel-Lucent, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that his company is now virtualizing a significant part of its mobile networking portfolio, including IMS, EPC and some parts of the RAN.
"This is a major step in allowing service providers to treat [network services] as software applications that can now be deployed either on purpose-built platforms or on general-purpose servers deployed in the data center," Gulyani said. "So it gives service providers a lot of flexibility in turning up additional capacity to support demand, and to deliver new services, and doing so in an affordable fashion."
Alcatel-Lucent achieved its new virtualization posture through a re-architecting of network functions to be able to run on a virtualized environment, on any server or any hypervisor, and to be deployed on top of any NFV management system.
"In addition, since the hardware and software are decoupled, we are applying new strategies to deliver redundancy and scalability by more flexibly using compute resources," Gulyani said.
A key part of the overall solution is Alcatel-Lucent's Cloudband technology, the company's NFV platform that provides the server, storage and networking infrastructure with the Cloudband Node. Cloudband also includes management and orchestration functionality to deploy and manage network functions deployed on the infrastructure.
Gulyani said that Alcatel-Lucent is using Red Hat's OpenStack Platform to provide compute resource management on the Cloudband nodes, essentially to create and manage virtual machines on the servers.
"The management and orchestration software essentially runs on virtual machines in servers – so it is a cloud application that can be run on the Cloudband node itself, or on any virtualized data center infrastructure," Gulyani said.
Moving forward, Gulyani said that overall, the virtualization of mobile network functions is a big step in getting mobile networks to adopt cloud. This will be a journey the industry takes on as a whole over the next few years.
"We are using SDN capabilities to provide seamless networking of the network functions running in the cloud," Gulyani said. "The SDN solution is provided by our venture Nuage Networks' solution, the Virtualized Services Platform (VSP). It is the same solution that we have already introduced to provide seamless and unconstrained networking within and between datacenters in support of enterprise IT applications."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist