Alcatel-Lucent virtualizes WANs and routers

Joins WAN SDN fray with Cisco, start-ups; joins Juniper with NFV router

Alcatel-Lucent’s Nuage Networks SDN venture has broadened its product line to tackle enterprise WANs, an increasingly vital market for the technology.

Nuage’s Virtualized Networks Services (VNS) product is designed to help enterprises simplify the provisioning of secure network services to remote locations. It is intended to extend policy-driven network automation to branch locations to speed the deployment of new sites, and reduce operational expenditures.

Nuage joins Cisco and a handful of start-ups targeting SDNs at enterprise WANs, where infrastructures have been rigid and unchanged for a decade or more. The same benefits that SDN offer for data centers – ease of configuration, extensibility and operation in virtual environments – can be extended to the WAN, they say.

‘’The initial challenges and pains occasioned by virtualization and cloud were perhaps felt most acutely in the datacenter, but, as enterprises consider their application-delivery requirements for mobility and cloud, they quickly realize that the WAN needs an extensive overhaul, too,’’ says IDC analyst Brad Casemore. ‘’Across the WAN and out the branch, the context is increasingly complicated, with the need to deliver both legacy and cloud applications to users that are increasingly mobile, spanning several different networks’’ like MPLS, Metro Ethernet, broadband, and 3G/4G.

“One element is automation – configuring and managing a large WAN,” says Gartner analyst Joe Skorupa. “The other is cost: a simpler end point for the branch” while functions previously housed in an expensive CPE router are pushed into the cloud.

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Nuage says its VNS is an extension of its Virtualized Services Platform (VSP) product for the cloud and data centers. VNS can work across both corporate WAN and Internet access bandwidth, and allows users to create templates that describe and manage the workflow of network services for applications in clouds, from any location, the company says.

In this regard, VNS is comparable to Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and Intercloud multi-cloud intenconnectivity offering, Casemore says.

‘’One differentiator for Nuage, as I see it, is that they are offering a comprehensive approach both within the datacenter and across the WAN,’’ Casemore says. ‘’In conjunction with its technology partners, Nuage seems to be constructing an alternative to the ACI-Intercloud model that Cisco is building.’’

VNS can be deployed on x86 server CPE or hosted virtual CPE, Nuage says. It is an extension of VSP’s virtual services directory and virtual services controller to the branch office, where services such as firewalls, VPNs, NAT and access control lists can be turned up or down on demand via policy.

Nuage Networks VNS is in trials now and will be commercially available in Q1 2015.


Separately, Alcatel-Lucent has virtualized its edge routing portfolio to address service provider requirements for Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), where network functions run as software on x86 servers instead of dedicated hardware.

The company’s Virtualized Service Router (VSR) is a suite of software applications designed to allow providers to scale services across servers. VSR is based on Service Router Operating System code from Alcatel-Lucent’s hardware routers, which were just shy of a $500 million business for the company in the second quarter, according to Dell’Oro Group.

Alcatel-Lucent says service providers can start with the VSR for small-scale requirements and then deploy the router hardware when capacity demands. Juniper announced the same intent last week with a virtualized version of its MX edge router.

VSR applications include route reflector, route simulator, provider edge for Carrier Ethernet services, application-level reporting and traffic management, IP security gateway, wireless LAN gateway and broadband network gateway.

VSR is available now, though some applications will be rolled out in 2015.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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