Alcatel-Lucent Unveils NFV Plans for Mobile Operators
The networking vendor is focusing on NFV and SDN as it shifts its focus from supplying hardware to selling software.Alcatel-Lucent, which is continuing its transition from a hardware-based networking vendor to one that offers cloud-based software, is offering mobile operators virtualized network functions that can be accessed via the cloud. The company wants to make it easier for mobile operators to embrace network-function virtualization (NFV) as a way to more quickly spin out services and to lessen their reliance on proprietary hardware in their infrastructures. Alcatel-Lucent officials said the company is working with 20 service providers that are looking to use NFV technologies in their networks, and that the networking vendor's efforts in this area will be a key part of its presence at the Mobile World Congress 2014, which starts Feb. 24 in Barcelona, Spain. Alcatel-Lucent's portfolio of virtualized products, announced Feb. 19, include Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) for the automated authentication and management of subscribers and services on the network, and IP Multimedia Subsystem ( vIMS), a cloud-based communications platform for delivering rich multimedia over IP networks. In addition, the company will offer a virtualized version of its Radio Access Network (RAN) products, which includes a virtualized 3G radio network controller and a virtualized proof-of-concept for LTE and LTE-advanced radio access networks. NFV is the close relative of software-defined networking (SDN), both of which offer the promise of creating networks that are more programmable, automated, flexible and cost-efficient by breaking the link between network control and services and the underlying hardware. NFV refers to services in Layers 4-7, such as intrusion detection, load balancing and firewalls. By virtualizing these services and detaching them from physical switches and routers, network administrators can more quickly spin out new service offerings for their customers.
For mobile operators, which are under increasing demand for more services—from voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) to WebRTC for real-time communications to machine-to-machine communications—having a more flexible and programmable network can enable them to innovate more quickly and generate revenues more quickly.