To help operators virtualize their infrastructures, Alcatel-Lucent has opened up to third party vendors an internal cloud platform that will run features such as DNS and firewalls.
Operators have to move away from the proprietary equipment they use today and instead adopt a more cloud-based infrastructure that allows them to be more flexible and use commodity hardware, according to Sue White, senior director of IP platforms marketing at Alcatel-Lucent.
Just like enterprises today can roll out new applications and services faster using hosted services, so too will operators, and that should be a boon for users, Alcatel-Lucent said.
“What we are going to see is operators innovate with services much faster and be able to work with third parties a lot better ... Today operators take a long, long time to deliver new services,” White said.
The underlying concept is called Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and the platform Alcatel-Lucent hopes operators will use to make it a reality is CloudBand. To help propel the use of CloudBand, the company has opened up to third party app developers a live installation that the it hosts in Chicago.
As part of the program, operators Deutsche Telekom and Telefónica will work with the likes of Citrix Systems, Intel, Brocade-owned Vyatta, Radware, Red Hat, Metaswitch Networks and Nominum on network applications such as DNS and session border controllers.
There is a large interest for NFV among operators, as shown last year when representatives from 13 operators—including Verizon, China Mobile and Deutsche Telekom—came together to write a white paper on the topic.
However, moving to a whole new way of building the networks operators rely on to offer telephony and mobile broadband isn’t going to happen overnight.
“Certainly it’s a journey. This year we have done a lot of proof-of-concepts. Next year we expect to see a lot more trials, and probably in 2015 we’ll see the emergence of the first services operating in an NFV environment,” White said.