Nuage sprouts Alcatel's software-only bid to automate clouds

The internal startup is launching a platform it says will run on any vendor's network

By , IDG News Service |  Cloud Computing

Alcatel-Lucent is promising more manageable cloud computing through Nuage Networks, an internal startup that is making its formal debut on Tuesday.

Nuage has been Alcatel's wholly owned vehicle for developing its SDN (software-defined networking) platform, called VSP (Virtualized Services Platform). The venture, based in Silicon Valley and led by several longtime Alcatel executives, is unveiling VSP at an event on Tuesday in Santa Clara, California.

VSP is pure software, an overlay for networks and data centers that will work with any vendor's equipment because it's based on industry standards including IP (Internet Protocol), Alcatel says. It's designed to make SDN more programmable and automatic so enterprises and service providers can build more useful private, public and hybrid clouds, Alcatel-Lucent says.

SDN is designed to bring networks up to speed with the virtualization of computing and storage, removing network configuration tasks that are still required when VMs (virtual machines) move to different physical servers around a network. Until networks are as virtualized as the servers they connect, some of the benefits of virtualization will be unrealized, analysts say.

"You can deploy a new application in two hours. But it still takes two weeks to configure the network," said Joe Skorupa, an analyst at Gartner. SDN eventually could replace the many manual tweaks that network engineers make to keep up with changes in virtualized data centers, Skorupa said. But that transition will happen at a different speed at each company as old network gear and processes are phased out, he said.

Nuage's software-overlay approach could help Alcatel gain ground in markets where it lags behind networking rivals, such as in North America, Skorupa said.

According to Alcatel, Nuage took a software approach because that's the most efficient way to virtualize a network. Enterprises can transform the way their servers are networked without having to install any new hardware, said Manish Gulyani, head of marketing for fixed and core products at Alcatel. VSP uses standard networking protocols and works with all the major cloud platforms, including OpenStack, CloudStack and VMware, according to the company.

"We've taken the approach to solve it where it should be solved, not ... to sell more hardware," Gulyani said.

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