Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Alcatel-Lucent's "CloudBand" Sees Carrier Migration to Clouds

Alcatel-Lucent is introducing a new "CloudBand" architecture for delivering "virtual telco" functionality and enterprise services from cloud-enabled data centers rather than dedicated telecom platforms. CloudBand, which will be the foundation for a new class of ‘carrier cloud' services such as IMS or video applications, leverages generic compute resources deployed in regional data centers throughout a carrier's footprint. The goal is to make the carrier infrastructure more agile, elastic, resilient and application-aware.

Alcatel-Lucent believes that a regional data center model, as opposed to the global scale mega-data centers of Amazon and others, is essential for carriers in order to meet latency and other telco performance requirements. The regional data center model also fits better with the existing traffic patterns of carriers.

CloudBand is comprised of two distinct elements: the CloudBand Management System – which delivers orchestration and optimization of services between the communications network and the cloud; and the CloudBand Node, which provides the computing, storage and networking hardware and associated software to host a wide range of cloud services. CloudBand provides the interaction between the network and the cloud computing resources, which could also be located in a public cloud in addition to a carrier's regional data center. Advanced algorithms developed
by Bell Labs orchestrate the network, computing and data storage elements distributed throughout the network. Market trials are expected to begin in January.

Alcatel-Lucent describes the eventual migration of telco functionality into the cloud as a journey. Only a few telco applications will be cloud-ready initially, but the company is working to cloud-enable many others. Work is underway on IMS applications. The company has also discussed cloud-enablement of RAN functionality as part of its LightRadio architecture.

Alcatel-Lucent is already offering a hosted "digital store" service for operators that uses elements CloudBand architecture. Two North American operators are using the white-labeled service.

The CloudBand initiative has become a key part of the 10-year, strategic alliance between Alcatel-Lucent and HP. The companies are expected to discuss further aspects of the collaboration at an HP event later this month.