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Is Nuage really key to Nokia?

Two of SDN company's founders left shortly after offer for parent Alcatel-Lucent

Despite the departures of two founders, Nuage Networks is key to Nokia’s SDN ambitions once the Alcatel-Lucent acquisition closes, Nokia says. Alcatel-Lucent launched Nuage in 2013 as an internal start-up to develop a software overlay for automating and orchestrating hybrid clouds.

Two of the company’s founders, Florin Balus and Dmitiri Stiliadis, left shortly after Nokia announced intentions to acquire Alcatel-Lucent in April. Balus went to MosaixSoft, a data center software start-up that has yet to debut. Stiliadis left in June but is still a non-executive technical advisor to Nuage while he explores other opportunities.

That their departures, and those of a couple of other executives, closely followed Nokia’s announced purchase was coincidental, insiders say. Balus was eager to explore something outside of networking, while Stiliadis just wanted to explore. They weren’t discouraged by whatever Nokia had planned for Nuage… if the company even had plans for the SDN start-up with a handful of name brand enterprise accounts.

But it can’t help perception building. Did Nokia want to de-emphasize or de-fund Nuage’s mission, or disengage financial incentives Alcatel-Lucent may have had in place for the company and its employees?

Nokia’s buying Alcatel-Lucent to combine fixed and mobile broadband assets, obtain IP routing, and augment core networks, cloud applications and services. Nokia will also get Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs for research and development.

In software-based virtualization, Nokia is expected to focus squarely on Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) for service providers and network operators. Though Nuage also has some service provider accounts, its business is founded on SDN for private and hybrid enterprise clouds.

But Nokia says it won’t tamper with Nuage because it’s counting on the company’s SDN prowess to expand opportunities. From a Nokia spokesperson:

We can confirm the importance of Software Defined Networking for Nokia once the deal with Alcatel-Lucent has closed, and therefore you can expect Nuage will play an important role for the company in the future. Diversification of a customer base beyond telco operators will also be part of our strategy, and Nuage clearly has a role to play here as well.

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