Light Reading

AlcaLu: Going With the Flow

Dan Jones

CHICAGO -- Light Reading's Big Telecom Event -- Alcatel-Lucent's Basil Alwan spent part of his keynote this week grappling with what networking functions and elements will get swept away by the tide of virtualization and which can't simply be replaced by software and cheap servers.

Alwan, president of IP routing and transport for Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), stated that there is a "tremendous pressure" of change on vendors and carriers as SDN and NFV shake up what networking is and can be, but there's also a "tremendous opportunity."

Some things, however, will not change. "Software defined or not software defined, we still need big routers," Alwan told the audience.

Surfin' BTE
Alwan takes the stage.
Alwan takes the stage.

Lest you think that the vendor guy is simply a King Canute trying to hold back the software tide and shore up his margins, Alwan gave examples of where the company has realized it has to work with third-party platforms and software.

For instance, AlcaLu's SDN spin-in, Nuage Networks , has built its platform on hardware from Arista Networks Inc. and HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ), among others. The company's Cloudband virtualization platform pulls in third-party elements, too. (See How Alcatel-Lucent Set a Telco Cloud Example and Alcatel-Lucent Expands CloudBand.)

The key, Alwan says, is knowing which functions of the network can be abstracted with software and x86 servers and which will still require dedicated network elements. "I like to call it network function optimization, rather than virtualization."

Specifically, he thinks that elements like the mobility management entity (MME) in the packet core could be substituted with software on an x86 platform. Hardcore IP routing elements designed with SLA requirements in mind, he says, are built around dedicated network processor performance that PC-derived x86 silicon simply can't match yet.

"It'll be five years, easy," before performance starts to get good enough, Alwan said.

So, for Alwan and AlcaLu, this is what the idealized evolution of the network will look like.

Free Flow
And routing transport IP shalt live in harmony with SDN and NFV.
And routing transport IP shalt live in harmony with SDN and NFV.

What say you, readers?

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/18/2014 | 3:12:54 PM
I would agree
I agree core routers aren't going anywhere anytime soon.  You can't find a 100GE interface on any "bare metal" network device even and certainly not anywhere near a server.   The only way to interface something like that into a server is put a NPU on the server and then you might as well be using a router which consumes less power.   By the time servers catch up we will be using 400G interfaces off of routers in high bandwidth applications.  

I saw a picture once of how many racks of servers you would need to process the amount of packets a full-tilt single Cisco NCS6K could (8Tbps full-duplex) and it spanned more than a couple rows.  Of course this is a marketing slide but it's not really all that far off.  

As you start moving NFV functionality into the cloud for functions where it makes sense like virtual CPE, FW, etc.  you need bigger pipes to connect everything together.  The inter and intra-datacenter traffic will continue to grow at speeds outpacing x86 certainly and even commodity hardware unless the commodity hardware folks start producing higher speed NPUs.   Juniper/Cisco/ALU have all had 100G+ NPUs for some time now. 
From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (9) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (2) comments

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
Sprint, Verizon Face Reorganization, Job Cuts
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/20/2015
Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.