Alcatel-Lucent offers SDN approach to IP and optical network provision, optimization

Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) may have given hope to those who believe software-defined networking (SDN) will finally bring about efficient IP and optical layer convergence. The company's SDN-based Network Services Platform (NSP) supports coordinated service automation and network control across both the IP and optical layers in a multivendor environment, asserted a company source.

Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) may have given hope to those who believe software-defined networking (SDN) will finally bring about efficient IP and optical layer convergence. The company's SDN-based Network Services Platform (NSP) supports coordinated service automation and network control across both the IP and optical layers in a multivendor environment, asserted a company source.

The NSP is the first toolkit for holistically addressing both network optimization and service creation simultaneously across the IP and optical domains, asserted Tony Kourlas, senior manager, SDN and NMS product marketing, IP Routing and Transport, at Alcatel-Lucent. The NSP uses real-time visibility of network resources in both the IP and optical domains to deliver automated provisioning of the most efficient pathway for new, upgraded, or dynamic services, he said. A set of algorithms developed by Bell Labs aids this process; the adaptive routing algorithms use information such as link traffic and use, and network topology and state, to determine the most efficient transportation path available as well as unlock unused capacity.

The platform comprises a Network Services Director (which itself comprises a services provisioning manager and a services connection manager) and a Network Resource Controller (which has various controller elements as well as KPI and analytics capabilities). While based on SDN, operators can use the NSP without a full blown SDN environment in place, Kourlas said. He noted that operators are not obligated to install or use all aspects of the platform.

The NSP currently operates in conjunction with Alcatel-Lucent's 7750 Service Router family, 1830 Photonic Service Switch, and 5620 Service Aware manager; the company has not yet brought its broadband access network equipment under the NSP umbrella. However, that umbrella will cover routers and optical transport equipment from other vendors. The NSP features a mediation capability that enables the platform to communicate with non-Alcatel-Lucent hardware from what Kourlas described as "popular router vendors" as well as optical transport system suppliers. He acknowledged that techniques for communicating with routers, using such protocols as NetConf and Yang, were better established than in the optical transport realm. Nevertheless, he said Alcatel-Lucent has the problem solved.

The NSP also can interact with the NFV resource management capabilities enabled by Alcatel-Lucent's Cloudband platform as well as the data center focused Virtualized Services Platform from the company's Nuage Networks unit.

An assessment ACG Research has performed indicates that use of the NSP can enable new services to be designed more than 58% faster and with at least 56% fewer resources than via conventional means. Bell Labs, meanwhile, purports that use of its algorithms can enable carriers to squeeze 24% more traffic through their IP/optical infrastructure.

Perhaps for these reasons, Alcatel-Lucent has about 40 customer engagements for the NSP ahead of its June 2015 release date, Kourlas said. In fact, one customer has already agreed to deploy the product in its network, he added.

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