Alcatel-Lucent released its Network Service Platform (NSP) this morning, a software-defined networking (SDN) platform specifically for carriers, targeting service automation and real time network control that spans the optical, Ethernet, and IP layers.
AlcaLu says NSP is set apart from other SDN platforms by going all the way up to the IP layer and by including the company’s knowledge of service management.
NSP can provision services across physical and virtual networks alike, and even over other vendors’ equipment. NSP also provides visibility of all layers at all times, enhancing automation of mutlilayer service provisioning and real time network optimization, AlcaLu says. All of this is done in the name of allowing operators to activate new services more economically and more quickly.
“We built a platform from the ground up to build a single unified product that creates a foundation of real networking intelligence, on which we can do automation in real time,” Gulyani says. “A lot of the solutions that are currently available for carrier SDN have taken a partial or fragmented approach.”
NSP is a completely separate offering from that of subsidiary Nuage Networks, which only works on Layers 2 and 3, not the optical layer, and focuses on network virtualization. There will be a few common elements shared between Nuage and NSP, but the two will be addressing different parts of the network, says Manish Gulyani, the company’s vice president of product marketing.
Paul Parker-Johnson, an analyst at ACG Research, says NSP offers a streamlined process from description to deployment, which saves times and helps operators build more straightforward service offerings. As far as other options go, the unification point of NSP has many competitors beat, he says.
“There are good applications and offerings from Cisco for WAN optimization and its Network Service Orchestrator, but they are two separate solutions, and there is certainly work being done to connect them, but it hasn’t been done yet,” Parker-Johnson says. “NSP has combined the functionality in a unified solution that has a little bit more range and is a little bit simpler to deploy.”
Parker-Johnson, on a purely speculative level, says both Alcatel-Lucent’s IP and optical transport platform and Nuage’s platform will be distinct from what Nokia brings to the table, but there will be scenarios of overlap, especially in mobile networks. Eventually, those will have to be sorted out, but he expects NSP to be freestanding.
NSP is due to be commercially available next month.