Just before Mobile World Congress, on Sunday evening in Barcelona, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri touted the integration of Alcatel-Lucent, proclaimed big plans for 5G, and — what the heck — announced a deal to acquire security vendor Nakina Systems, too.
The scattering of topics at Nokia’s press and analyst even was typical for a huge company at MWC. Suri had a particular mission, though. He’s trying to position the new Nokia — made up of two companies that have had more than a few doubters during the past decade — as being in a position of strength.
The acquisition isn’t officially completed, as a small percentage of Alcatel-Lucent stock remains out of Nokia’s hands. But Suri noted that the operational agreements between the companies are set, and as of Jan. 14, they have been operating as one.
That’s meant hiring 10,000 new “leaders and management” as part of a process to assemble teams to address particular customers. “I’ve seen almost none of the organizational angst and infighting that characterized other deals,” Suri said.
The company has also been decisive about choosing which side’s technology is the focus for particular types of products — using Alcatel-Lucent radio units with Nokia baseband, for instance.
Suri also noted that Nokia plans to be big and loud in 5G. The company hasn’t always been quick to jump on hyped technologies, he said, but he believes 5G is different because it’s inevitable.
“We’re already talking about the real use cases now. We’re not saying, ‘5G will come, and let’s see what we’ll use it for.’ ”
Those use cases include Internet of Things plans that range from self-driving vehicles, which create lots of information and a need for quick decisions, to sensors that will sit in place for a decade and transmit slow trickles of data. Nokia is involved with many of these use cases with carriers worldwide, Suri said. All this activity is happening without 5G being fully defined or standardized.
“5G is not a radio technology,” he said. “The whole thing is about use cases.”
To help Nokia get ensconced in 5G, the company’s venture capital arm has launched a $350 million IoT fund, Suri said.
Nokia Acquiring Nakina
Nokia also announced Sunday that it’s acquiring Nakina for an undisclosed sum, expecting the deal to close in the first quarter. It’s indicative of the smaller, “bolt-on” technology acquisitions Nokia plans to pursue, he said.
Suri pointed out that Nakina sells identity access management, a technology that can help find security threats being caused by an enterprise’s insiders.
That’s just part of a larger market Nakina calls “network integrity.” The company’s NI-Framework is a platform that deploys Nakina-based applications that assist the network in various ways. NI-Guardian is the application for identity access management, for instance.
Another example is NI-Controller, which delivers real-time analysis of the network. Customers for NI-Controller have included AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Telcel/America Movil, according to the SDxCentral NFV landscape report published last year.