Nokia Builds Apps for Optical Network Monetization

Nokia has unveiled a set of applications, dubbed WaveSuite, designed to help network operators to better manage and make more money from their programmable optical assets.

With SDN tools now more mature, enabling automated multi-layer and multivendor capacity management, operators are now in a position to offer more flexible services, such as bandwidth on demand, to their customers through digital portals that provide self-service functionality. (See Colt Automates Network Service Delivery With On Demand Portal and Airtel Launches Bandwidth-on-Demand Service .)

Much of those early developments have addressed Layer 2 and Layer 3 services, but what about Layer 1 (wavelength) services? Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is aiming to address this with its new Service Enablement application, the key part of WaveSuite that sits between SDN controllers (and other programmable networking tools) and an operator's OSS and BSS systems. (See Nokia Unveils WaveSuite .)

"The WaveSuite Service Enablement tool can help operators take advantage of the programmability of their optical network … it's an optical domain services orchestrator" that has been developed using the MEF 3.0 Optical Transport Services (MEF 63) specifications that define attributes for Layer 1 services, notes Nokia's product marketing director for optical, Kyle Hollasch. (Nokia, it should be noted, was one of the main contributors to MEF 63, along with Bell Canada, Cisco and Korean vendor HFR.)

So is this yet another piece of middleware that operators need to think about integrating into their existing slew of operational and business tools? "Middleware is typically back-end software … this is customer-facing, but it does sit in the middle, yes," notes Hollasch.

What Nokia is particularly stressing with the Service Enablement part of WaveSuite is that it is designed for a hierarchical deployment: It is installed by the network operator but can be used not only by the operator's direct customer (for example, a regional transport service provider that resells optical capacity) but also by that company's customers (for example, large enterprises).

"We are trying to bring value to our customers by helping them build their business," notes Sam Bucci, head of the optical networks business at Nokia. "This enables them to do more with SDN … it enables a business case."

And it should make optical capacity more attractive to potential customers, as it can eliminate the problem of how to manage it once it has been bought on a wholesale basis. "Instead of just selling the capacity and then leaving the customer to figure out how to manage it and make money from it, network operators can now offer a platform for the management and monetization of that capacity," adds Hollasch.

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The development should be of particular interest to wholesale carriers and, indeed, WaveSuite is being trialed by Chorus , an existing Nokia optical technology fan that has already developed a strong wholesale business selling network capacity to retail service providers in New Zealand. (See Chorus Trials Nokia Optical Gear and New Zealand's Chorus proposes shared 5G network.)

The Service Enablement tool will "put more network control in the hands of our customers, while also minimizing our investment in upgrading back office systems," noted Mike Lott, head of innovation at Chorus, in a prepared statement. "We also look forward to further exploring the Service Enablement virtual network hierarchical capabilities to initiate new revenue streams."

Hollasch says a Tier 1 European operator is also set to trial the tools, which will become commercially available in the spring of 2019.

Service Enablement is the prime element of WaveSuite, but not the only one: It also comprises Node Automation, a mobile device application that enables field engineers to validate and activate devices at customer premises with point-and-click functionality; and Network Insight, an analytics and optimization tool that feeds off streaming telemetry data to provide network operations teams with the best suggestions for changes to the network.

WaveSuite certainly seems to be addressing a need in the industry as network operators look for new revenue opportunities and ways to build business cases around their virtualization and programmable network capabilities. But operators will no doubt ask themselves if adding yet another layer of software to their stack is the right way forward, as they try to de-clutter their operations layers, and whether buying into a vendor's business enablement applications could lock them into the kind of dependency they say they're looking to avoid.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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