Nokia Unveils New CloudBand Software Platform

The enhanced portfolio features cloud and networking technologies from both Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent, which Nokia bought for $16.6 billion.

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Months after taking control of Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia is unveiling the initial results of the merger of the two networking vendors.

Nokia officials this week announced a revamped single CloudBand software portfolio that combines Alcatel-Lucent's CloudBand platform with Nokia's Cloud Applications Manager and Cloud Network Director products. The new CloudBand also is part of a larger strategy of enabling network operators to embrace network-functions virtualization (NFV) technologies by giving them an open offering that enables them to adopt technologies from Nokia or a range of other vendors.

Service providers are under increasing pressure to become more agile and to more quickly deliver services to customers while at the same time reducing costs in both their networks and their operations, according to Nokia officials. That comes as competition from cloud providers grows and as the Internet of things (IoT) and 5G networking come into play.

With the new CloudBand portfolio, Nokia is giving network operators an open, stand-alone software platform based on OpenStack that includes the key elements of NFV—from virtual network functions (VNFs) to service orchestration to open environments—and enables them to use whatever VNFs work best for them, whether from Nokia or third parties.

The open-source part of the story is key for network operators, according to Ron Haberman, vice president and general manager of CloudBand, applications and analytics at Nokia.

"For carriers, open source is very important," Haberman told eWEEK. "One of the strengths of this [CloudBand offering] in the industry is avoiding any kind of vendor lock-in."

He also said that Nokia is a member of an array of open-source community groups, and that the remade CloudBand solution is a result of the work the company has done with those organizations.

"We retained the best of both worlds [Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent], and what we ended up with is an engine based on a lot of open-source projects."

Nokia earlier this year completed its $16.6 billion acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, a deal that brought together two networking vendors in transition in hopes of creating a larger company that can better compete with such players as Ericsson, Cisco Systems and Huawei Technologies in the telecommunications networking equipment space. It's a market that is becoming increasingly competitive, as illustrated by a partnership between Cisco and Ericsson announced in November 2015 in which they will work together to develop networking technologies aimed at such areas as the IoT, NFV and software-defined networking (SDN). The alliance could mean as much as $1 billion to each company by 2018, officials said.

The new CloudBand offering, which will be available in July, is designed to push Nokia's ambitions in the cloud and among telcos as well as offer service providers a stand-alone platform that can be used with VNFs and networking hardware from any other vendor. What Nokia offers is broad experience—both from Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent—in integrating the various pieces of the cloud puzzle, from the management software and applications to the hardware, Haberman said.

With CloudBand, Nokia now is offering a production-grade platform to help accelerate carriers' plans for moving from testing NFV technologies to full deployment. The combination of Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent technologies brings greater flexibility and high availability to the platform, broad management and monitoring tools and an open-source background to help service providers take advantage of the products from Nokia or competitors.

With the new platform, service providers can more quickly get services up and running. Many third-party VNFs already are on the platform, while certification tools on the platform enable service providers to quickly on-board other third-party VNFs, according to officials.