Recently, Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) unveiled its CloudBand “Carrier Cloud” management solution. It spoke to the need for service providers to have the ability to assure the management of interoperability over the heterogeneous elements of their networks.
It also highlighted why the creation of a true carrier-class cloud offering for the transformation of carrier networks as they migrate from a TDM-based infrastructure for services delivery to an all IP Applications Fluent Network (which includes the employment of software defined networking (SDN) capabilities needs to be done holistically, efficiently, securely and according to a sound roadmap that eliminates rather than creates obstacles. This means the proper planning and coordinated introduction of next generation computing, storage and networking that provides not just new functionality, but a seamless, secure and easily managed “E”vironment.
The reason for interoperability of heterogeneous clouds, particularly in the delivery by carriers of carrier-class solutions internally and externally cannot be over-exaggerated. Clearly the data center is going to be for all carrier services in the future what the central office and SS#7 signaling network used to be for voice communications. In other words, it is central both to the transformation of the way they operate their networks, along with being the foundation for how they position themselves in the market for service delivery going forward.
Reality is they rightfully and historically have been multi-vendor in terms of the construction of their infrastructures. This has meant the creation of silos. It has also meant the creation of complexity in terms of managing costs, quality and security. For carriers to remain foundational players, transformation is no longer just desirable it is a necessity, operationally and competitively.
Following the CloudBand announcement, I spoke with David Frattura, senior director of strategy for Alcatel-Lucent’s Cloud Solutions Enablement Group, for a bit more granularity on where carrier clouds are going, why and how. He highlighted the criticality of why getting the move to the cloud right had to rest on conquering the management of heterogeneity and thus why Alcatel-Lucent was so intent on embracing openness through support of things like OpenStack, Apache CloudStack in the CloudBand Management System, and support of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).
As he noted, “We focused on the management plane with the goal to have system that can adapt to different types of architectures, and simplify access to resource pool that fits their applications needs. He stated that, “Out the door our emphasis was on modularity. The cloud is the data center. Our mission is to help carriers answer the difficult question, ‘How do I simplify?’ We want/need to make the carrier’s life easier. We also want to mask complexity to cloud consumers while simplifying the management of heterogeneous architecture.”
Frattura also discussed why openness was key to creating an operating environment that was flexible. Indeed, flexibility is a core requirement in networking going forward. This is not just because of the growing unpredictability of traffic, and the varying needs of the increasing trove of applications that reside in the cloud, but also because of the trend/demand as we move into an era of “E”verything as a service (aka XaaS) to support what is known as “elastic computing.” In short, enabling customers, internal and external, to only use what they need when they need it and pay for only what they use. Architecting for this “new normal” makes flexibility along with simplicity in executing it essential.
Alcatel-Lucent agrees that while carriers getting into cloud services for enterprise customers has great promise and is near or at the top of their “to-do lists”, the more immediate service provider opportunity for moving to a carrier-class cloud is to trim their own costs by transforming how they operate.
It is demonstrable that the cloud makes the carrier more efficient by consolidating IT equipment, power and human resources into a single, flexible entity. It can lower the cost of network operation by simplifying capacity planning and security and inventory management, pooling spare capacities, and decreasing the size of operations teams. Virtualization is also important as it can streamline the operator’s OPEX (News - Alert) by as much as 80 percent. This is extremely valuable in face of lower carrier margins and the competitive nature of their business. That is reason enough to move to the cloud now, and to do in an optimal manner.
Some of the big service providers are intent on building their own cloud management systems. However, smaller carriers may not have the IT personnel or expertise to do what is not an easy task given today’s inherently complicated multivendor network environment. Plus, history says that some carriers who have attempted this on their own have admitted failure and the need for help. Regardless of the carrier’s situation, they clearly want to be able to leverage the investments they have already made in network equipment and data center platforms, and that is where Alcatel-Lucent can step in with CloudBand.
Alcatel-Lucent is the first in the industry to address the over-arching interoperability challenge by making its CloudBand solution interoperable with network architectures beyond its own, as well as all of today’s popular cloud computing platforms. As such, it removes the barriers that operators face today when trying to move to the cloud, while also providing a carrier cloud solution that simplifies the orchestration and management of distributed clouds to streamline the on-boarding of applications and other network elements, while also future-proofing the carrier’s investments. It allows the carrier to provide high performance, reliability and QoS that public clouds cannot match.
It should also be noted that as a result of the aforementioned support of OpenStack, CloudStack and Amazon EC2, Alcatel-Lucent is also the first cloud vendor to build a bridge to the future by allowing service providers to become cloud-ready by leveraging their pre-existing network assets.
Alcatel-Lucent’s wants to get their service provider customers to move to the cloud quickly based on a sound approach to infrastructure transformation that lives up to the billing as being carrier-class.
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.
Edited by Brooke Neuman