Alcatel-Lucent Venture Nuage Networks Details SDN Play

the software-defined networking (SDN) venture backed by Alcatel-Lucent

"It takes weeks sometimes for virtual machines to be connected to the network after they are instantiated. At Nuage Networks, we are going to change that," said Sunil Khandekar, CEO of Nuage Networks, at a launch event for VSP Tuesday. "We are bringing the world's most advanced, comprehensive and powerful SDN solution that includes programmability and automation in a way that lets virtual machines be instantly and rapidly connected to the network."

Nuage said VSP -- what the company dubbed a "second-generation" SDN solution -- can automate the end-to-end data center network, slashing networking provisioning time from days to minutes. The platform is being targeted largely at telecom and cloud service providers, and it can scale to support large data centers with thousands of customers, Nuage said, making it suitable for public, private and hybrid cloud services.

[Related: Alcatel-Lucent Taps Former Vodafone Exec As New CEO ]

VSP is comprised of three key components: the Virtualized Services Directory (VSD), Virtualized Services Controller (VSC) and Virtual Routing and Switching (VRS). The Virtualized Services Directory serves as a programmable policy and analytics engine for the platform, while the Virtualized Services Controller is an SDN controller running Alcatel-Lucent's Server Router Operating System (SR OS).

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The Virtualized Services Controller gathers reachability information from Layers 2 through 4 on the network stack and then feeds that information into the Virtual Routing and Switching element, which is a basically a Nuage-specific version of the open-sourced Open vSwitch. The Virtual Routing and Switching component also tracks virtual machine creation, migration and deletion, adjusting network connectivity as needed.

Nuage described VSP as a software overlay for a data center network, creating tunnels between virtual machines, whether those machines are based on the same server rack, in a separate rack or even in another data center. This, the startup said, allows the network to be available instantaneously no matter where an application is running.

VSP is compatible with the OpenStack, CloudStack and VMware cloud platform, and it is completely vendor-agnostic when it comes to networking gear, Nuage said.

"We recognize that the choices have been made in data centers. These are data centers that are currently operating -- they just need the automation," Khandekar said. "So to us, it doesn't matter what choice has been made in virtual compute platform or the hypervisor technology. It doesn't matter what networking hardware choices have been made. We will provide automation ... for any existing data center environment, anytime, every time [and for] any cloud."

The launch of Nuage Networks will help Alcatel-Lucent compete more aggressively with other networking companies investing heavily in the SDN space, including Cisco, Big Switch Networks, and VMware, which acquired SDN-focused start-up Nicira in July.

Other networking incumbents, including Juniper and Brocade, have made strategic buys in the SDN space over the past year, looking to claim their stake in market IDC projects to be worth $3.7 billion by 2016.

Nuage said trials of its Virtualized Services Platform begin in April in Europe and North America, with early trial customers including U.K.-based cloud service provider Exponential-e, French telecoms service provider SFR, Canadian telecoms service provider TELUS and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Worldwide commercial availability is planned for mid-2013.