SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Alcatel-Lucent jumped on the bandwagon in software-defined networking with a software suite incubated by an internal group acting as a separate company. The Virtual Services Platform of Nuage Networks appears to embrace open standards at a greater depth than competitive offerings from rival comms giants Cisco Systems and Ericsson.
The trend toward software-defined networks (SDNs) poses disruptive threats to comms giants such as AlcaLu. SDNs aim to cut through an overgrown set of proprietary software environments and ASICs to turn comms features into apps that run on servers.
Startups have been among the first to embrace SDN to get a foothold in huge and rapidly growing data center markets. AlcaLu is one of the last of the large established comms vendors to announce its SDN strategy.
“The data center network is standing in the way of cloud services today” because each new application requires reconfiguring every system on the net, said Sunil Khandekar, chief executive of Nuage. “Server utilization in the data center is at 30 percent or less because the network is in the way,” he added.
The Nuage suite has three parts. A directory of services and policies runs on Linux and can be programmed using Restful APIs or a GUI dashboard based on HTML5. An SDN controller can be expressed as a set of virtual machines but also runs AlcaLu’s proprietary Service Provider OS it says is in use at 500 telcos.
The third part is a set of virtual routing and switching elements based on an enhanced version of the Open Vswitch. AlcaLu aims to release its enhancements to the open source virtual switch, but has not said when it will do so.
The company claims the suite, available now, is unique in natively supporting Layer 3 and 4 features. It also claims it can run on any hardware and will scale across a broader number and variety of computer and networking systems than code from its rivals. The software uses Border Gateway Protocol, used mainly in core networks, as a way of linking to rival networks.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.