Alcatel-Lucent on Wednesday outlined plans to roll out a series of virtual mobile network functions in an effort to become more of a software player independent of hardware.
For Alcatel-Lucent, which primarily sells hardware, the move to a software defined networking strategy for mobile carriers is notable. Cisco has also positioned itself to be more of a software player.
In a nutshell, Alcatel-Lucent will migrate its packet core, IP multimedia subsystem and radio access network---the core components of a mobile network---and move them to the cloud. Overall, the dream is to enable a virtual telecom. The company said that its network functional virtualization (NPV) portfolio is being used by 20 carriers.
At the Mobile World Congress, Alcatel-Lucent and China Mobile, which has more than 700 million customers, will demonstrate virtualized LTE service. The win for carriers is that a virtual network can allow them to automate and move to new services quickly.
Alcatel-Lucent said that it will offer a "carrier-grade virtualized mobile portfolio" that will be hardware independent and connect to OpenStack, the open source cloud operating system.
The game plan for Alcatel-Lucent is to get carriers on its CloudBand platform to manage virtual applications. To date, Alcatel-Lucent has three CloudBand NPV customers and 10 trials. The company's Nuage Networks software defined networking tools are being used in 20 carrier trials.