Specifically (and very speculatively), it means Alwan might get to run interference so that Nuage can continue to run independently. Nuage’s fate has been the source of some chatter in software defined networking (SDN) circles, particularly in the wake of a couple of Nuage executive departures.
Alwan’s appointment was part of today’s larger announcement of Nokia’s post-merger structure after the deal closes sometime in the first half of 2016.
Nuage isn’t a huge piece of the pending $16.6 billion deal (recent headlines have upped the amount to more like $18 billion), but as AlcaLu’s primary SDN and network virtualization play, the subsidiary’s fate has been the focus of some chatter. The assumption has been that Nokia, a company that hasn’t been as directly invested in SDN, won’t resist the temptation to start meddling with Nuage.
Here’s why that matters. Alwan joined Alcatel-Lucent when it acquired his router startup, TiMetra in 2003. TiMetra went on to become a credible competitor to market leaders Cisco and Juniper, and much of that success can be credited to TiMetra’s independence. Amid AlcaLu’s seemingly endless financial struggles, TiMetra was left on its own, operating like the Silicon Valley startup it originally was.
Nuage got the same treatment. It was created as a subsidiary of AlcaLu and run as a separate company housed in a separate headquarters (practically next door to TiMetra, but still separate).
The hands-off approach seems to have paid off. Nuage is a respected SDN competitor that’s recently announced work with China Mobile and China Telecom.
Ever since Nokia announced its acquisition plans, I’ve heard concerns about how much the Finnish management might start meddling with Nuage.
It might be coincidence, but two of Nuage’s founders recently left. CTO Dmitiri Stiliadis remains an advisor to the company but is scouting for other opportunities. Florin Balus, formerly head of product, is now vice president of product management at Mosaixsoft.
You could take that as a sign of apprehension. So, Nuage fans (and possibly employees) might be relieved to hear that Alwan will continue to run IP networking under Nokia’s rule.
The New Nokia
But as I mentioned, Nuage is a small piece of the overall company. Nokia plans to split its Networks business into four groups, each with its own president:
- Mobile Networks, combining Nokia and AlcaLu’s radio businesses, to be run by Samih Elhage
- Fixed Networks, an Alcalu business that will continue to be run by Federico Guillén
- Applications and Analytics, including the company’s Internet of Things (IoT) efforts, to be run by AlcaLu’s Bhaskar Gorti
- IP/Optical Networks, headed by Alwan.
AlcaLu got three of these four slots, but most of the executive team will come from Nokia.
As Mobile World Live pointed out, today’s announcement doesn’t mention a CTO for the combined company. It’s unclear, then, what’s going to happen with Nokia’s Hossein Moiin and AlcaLu’s Marcus Weldon. A statement AlcaLu provided to Mobile World Live noted that today’s announcement only lists people reporting directly to the CEO and doesn’t represent the entire post-merger team.