NFV Ecosystems: Is Alcatel-Lucent the Best Vendor to Drive Them? (Answer = No)

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

Late last week, Alcatel-Lucent formally announced their CloudBand Ecosystem Program.  I say, “formally” because the vendor had first referenced the program back in July in a blog post from CloudBand general manager Dor Skuler.  You know us, we had analyses on those developments.

Ecosystem programs are super-common in the early days of a new market, so this probably won’t be the last.  One question, then, that we didn’t try to tackle in our analyses is a pretty simple one. Is Alcatel-Lucent  the right vendor to drive this sort of effort?

There’s no one answer – so we’ll give you two. 

Whether it’s because I’m getting old or because I’m based on the West Coast (and need to rise unreasonably early for conference calls), I tend to be somewhat skeptical of everything.  To that end, I’ll take up the mantle of Alcatel-Lucent being smart in this effort, but probably not the best suited vendor to drive it forward.  Why?

  • Telco vs. IT Bias. This month, we’re in the middle of preparing a survey of operators around SDN and NFV.  One of the key questions we’ll be asking is which types of vendors they see as more credible, and which ones are less so.  Traditional telecom infrastructure vendors should maintain a credibility edge in terms of virtualizing traditional telecom applications.  The entire point of a program to embrace diverse applications, however, is to look beyond those traditional applications.  In the same way smaller vendors often benefit from being seen as “vendor agnostic,” IT vendors should be playing the same card – possessing foundational IT and virtualization assets but not being aligned with any specific application bias.
  • SDN Synergies. Some operators position SDN and NFV as completely distinct, each with its own vAlcatel-Lucente proposition.  Some see the two as interlinked, with SDN supporting NFV from a network resource allocation perspective.  If only to support this latter crowd, a solid NFV story needs to include a solid SDN component.  Alcatel-Lucent’s CloudBand messaging, at times, does reference its Nuage SDN solution.  Unfortunately, Nuage has been positioned as a solution to be sold into enterprise applications.  Not surprisingly, then, Nuage got no mention CloudBand Ecosystem program launch announcement.
  • NFV as a Tectonic Shift. I’ve become rather fond of positioning SDN and NFV as akin to the TDM-to-IP transition in carrier networks.  Like the move to IP, SDN and NFV represent a major change in the way that networks will be built and operated.  And, like the move to IP, this transition will take years.  Operators moving forward on those transitions, then, will want to know that their chosen vendor partners will be around today, tomorrow and for years to come.  We’ve been fairly position on the recent changes Alcatel-Lucent has made to transform itself.  Regardless, it’s reasonable for any operator to still have questions around this transformation and its likelihood of success

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