Alcatel-Lucent launches major new SDN platform

French networking company Alcatel-Lucent has unveiled its Network Services Platform (NSP), a unified, SDN-based carrier solution designed to unify service automation and network optimization.

The launch of NSP marks a major milestone for A-Lu and is a strong statement ahead of its impending acquisition by Nokia. It is embracing the new, software-defined, era of network management and delivering a commercial product that claims to deliver associated advantages such as speed, flexibility and efficiency.

A-Lu is stressing NSP “…bridges the gap between service design, provisioning and network engineering for the first time.” The SDN-based software is purpose-built to present a unified interface and centralised control, including real-time visibility of all layers of the network, which A-Lu allows “…automatic multi-layer service provisioning, to use the best available network resources as well as real-time network optimization.”

“I am proud of what the NSP team has created, working closely with our customers and leveraging our in-house expertise in IP/MPLS, optics and service-aware network management,” said Basil Alwan, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s IP Routing and Transport business.  “We have created a simple interface that can deal with the complexity of network control across multiple technologies. We built it from the ground up to enable a true carrier SDN that allows our customers to thrive in today’s cloud-driven world.”

The NSP will be commercially available from next month, but A-Lu has managed to get a customer quote already, from BT no less. “In order for SDN to mean we can really improve our customer experience and impact our network economics, we need approaches that consider the real-time state of the network and relate it to the requirements of the service we provide,” said Rob Shakir, BT End-to-End Network Architect.

“Doing so allows us to assure performance, and optimise resource usage across all our network layers. Tightly coupling service requirements and performance with network control, as in ALU’s NSP, promises to deliver real-world benefits of centralised optimisation whilst exploiting the strength of our existing distributed network.”

Paul Parker-Johnson of ACG Research provided further insight. “The NSP is a uniquely complete service definition and management platform supporting a blend of streamlined service definition with a powerful mediation engine that automates deployment of those services in a multi-layer, multi-vendor WAN.

“Using a mix of optimization and management technologies hardened over 1000s of operator deployments, as well as important protocol and data modelling standards being widely adopted in large scale cloud and operator infrastructures, the NSP advances the state of the art in wide area service automation with the functionality it supplies in a single unified solution.  It will undoubtedly be a key ingredient in turning many operators’ WANs into agile service delivery platforms.”

This launch is a pretty big deal for A-Lu. Not only is it a major addition to its product arsenal, but it emphasises the company’s R&D credentials at a critical juncture in the networking industry: the move to software and the cloud. Nokia must be pleased.

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