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Network Functions Virtualization: Learnings from an NFV proof-of-concept

By: Asaf Peled, Cloud Solution Architect, Alcatel-Lucent's CloudBand activity 

We live in exciting times – again. I had been wondering if there was still room for fundamental innovation, for technological disruption – the worn out word. We had the Internet bubble that burst 2001/2002. We had the advent of the smartphone in the recent years. Great innovation, but somehow they reached a plateau. Faster processors, larger screens? It doesn’t seem to make a real difference. Apple’s engine showed the first signs of sputtering.

And yet, there is something brewing behind the scenes that makes the engineer’s heart beat faster: NFV and SDN, a bold new vision about the future of networks (read these blog posts about understanding Network Functions Virtualization and Software Defined Networks). Network functions are to be reduced to pure software - doing away with all the special purpose chips, circuit boards, and cabinets into which we have poured our brains to deliver the ultimate in features, performance, and reliability.

Third Party Pays Mobile Data Plans Hit the Market

Alcatel-Lucent’s Rich Crowe continues the dialogue on the Six Degrees of Mobile Data Plan Innovation by examining recent market developments in third party pays mobile data.

Syntonic Wireless™ is bringing sponsored data to AT&T customers. The Seattle-based mobile services company’s new Syntonic Sponsored Content StoreSM, creates an open marketplace where AT&T’s iOS and Android customers can find and consume free or premium content without consuming their data plans. Integrated with AT&T’s Sponsored DataSM service, the Syntonic Sponsored Content Store operates on the third party pays concept, one of the six degrees of mobile data plan innovation.

When it announced Sponsored Data in January 2014, AT&T offered a vision for a service that would give sponsors new ways to engage with customers and employees. Sponsors could come from industries as diverse as healthcare, retail, media and entertainment, and financial services. They could use sponsored data in a variety of different ways, including:

The Six Degrees of Mobile Data Plan Innovation: It's Not All About Data- Mobile Voice and Messaging Share Plans Offer Plenty of Appeal

Alcatel-Lucent’s Rich Crowe continues the Six Degrees of Mobile Data Plan Innovation blog series by examining the degree to which consumers are interested in share plans that include unlimited voice and messaging but don’t include data.

The last Six Degrees blog explored consumer attitudes toward two different mobile share plan options: sharing data only and sharing voice, messaging and data. This blog will explore attitudes toward a 3rd option: sharing unlimited voice and messaging — but not data — across multiple devices or subscribers.

200G Optical Networks: What you need to know

By: Earl Kennedy, IP Transport Product Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

Optical network operators have already made the move to 100G. But skyrocketing bandwidth demand means many are already pondering what’s next. With a 200G optical solution hitting the market, you probably have questions about when to move to 200G optical – and what you need to know when you make that move.

Alcatel-Lucent in Action: a year of progress and look to the future

Sustainability, Alcatel-Lucent

Alcatel-Lucent in Action” is the story of one year of action to transform our company and position it for innovation and growth.

How signaling saps phone batteries - and what you can do about it

By: Josee Loudiadis, Director of Network Intelligence, Alcatel-Lucent (@joseeloudiadis) What do consumers know about the effects of signaling? We pay attention to our data plan costs — such as how many bytes of data we use for Skype calls, sending...

NFV INSIGHTS: Making the [business] case for NFV

By: Joaquin De La Vega Gonzalez-Sicilia, Alcatel-Lucent Sr. Manager, Cloud Consulting Services I still remember with great excitement how, in October 2012, a group of network operators published a whitepaper that coined the term Network Functions Virtualization. This announcement validated...

Hackathon Generates New Conversations, New Applications and Potential Revenue Opportunities

By: Gilles Duboué, IP Platforms Innovation Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent 

Recently in Munich, Alcatel-Lucent ran a 12 hour Hackathon that pitted the industry’s best and brightest developers against each other. The mission: build the most original, compelling and marketable app using New Conversation APIs.

New Conversation APIs make the rich functionality of IP Communications simple to mash up into applications. By enabling developers to easily integrated voice, video, data and contact information into any app, service providers can innovate faster – providing entirely new communications experiences to end users from any screen, device and network. They enable operators to explore new opportunities for enhancing retail services and to pursue new wholesale markets through application partners (web, verticals, M2P, M2M…).

NFV INSIGHTS: The making of NFV security - "from vision to reality"

By: David Amzallag - Alcatel-Lucent Vice President, Virtual Telecommunications and CloudBand CTO

While network functions virtualization (NFV) introduces new challenges to security, it also presents unique opportunities for addressing security problems due to the unprecedented scale, flexibility, and central control it affords. Compute, storage, and network resources can be optimally allocated and stitched together as required by the security policy. Our approach to address NFV security is based on a recursive, divide-and-conquer methodology, which involves securing the Alcatel-Lucent CloudBand™ NFV Platform, cloud nodes, and the network that interconnects them. CloudBand uses policy-based placement capabilities enabled by the CloudBand Management System to install virtualized functions in their appropriate security zones, and re-uses the security services provided by NFV applications.

I thought it would be a good idea to describe the journey to this approach together with its "making of" episodes.

Bell Labs and the Art of Disruptive Innovation

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Innovation takes many forms. But when it comes to the art of disruption, often it comes from quarters least expected. The breakthroughs that change the world are not something that can be forced or fully anticipated.

The foundation can be laid for disruptive innovation, however, as world-renowned research outfit Bell Labs well knows. Bell Labs, the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent, has been behind breakthroughs in innovation for generations.

10 Ways to drive mobile data growth through the youth market

By Daisy Su, Senior Strategic Marketing Manager, Corporate Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent (@daisysu)

Last week, I talked about mobile operators are building an overall brand experience that engages young consumers because the youth segment is valuable — and do influence adult segments. In addition to creating a youth brand or a youthful brand, mobile operators must also consider how to craft specific offers that promote the “mobile data first” experience to drive mobile data growth through the youth market.

Here are the 10 ideas that can help craft the “mobile data first” offers using an online charging solution (OCS)

Ethernet VPN (EVPN) - Networks for Ethernet Services

By: Greg Hankins, Senior Product Line Manager, Alcatel-Lucent

I’ve been talking a lot about EVPN recently at network operator conferences around the world, because I’m really excited about this new technology.  EVPN offers an alternative to VPLS that integrates both Layer 2 and Layer 3 services, and can run over simple IP networks with ECMP for resiliency and load balancing.  EVPN is an interesting new technology if you are providing a Layer 2 infrastructure over multiple sites, delivering integrated Layer 2/Layer 3 services, or providing cloud services.

Kabel Deutschland Simplifies its IP Edge

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

IP address exhaustion is an issue every Internet service provider must face. With the dwindling of IPv4 addresses, operators must migrate to IPv6 and seamlessly if they are to meet the needs of commercial, residential and mobile services.

For Vodafone Company Kabel Deutschland (KD), Germany’s largest cable operator, it was no question whether the move to IPv6 would be a bolt-on solution or something more integrated. A bolt-on solution would not do for KD, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent case study on KD. The company needed to address the issue of flexibility to accommodate long-term growth and next generation service delivery without compromising its reputation for high-performance and high-value service.

Build a Brand Experience that Engages Young Consumers

By Daisy Su, Senior Strategic Marketing Manager, Corporate Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent (@daisysu)

I’ve received a lot of questions from mobile operators, who are asking about mobile data growth and how it’s related to the youth market — meaning consumers from the age of 18 to 25 or sometimes 18 to 22. The mobile operators’ own research shows that the youth segment is valuable — and influences adult segments. The Business Case for Youth section of the Mobile Youth Report also says: “The youth market is worth $1 trillion dollars. Youth drive high-end smartphone markets. Youth have the highest lifetime value of all customers.” As a result, mobile operators around the world are taking notice of young consumers, and some are investing in a new youth brand to attract that segment. 

How to Kill Shadow IT: Step Two - Make It Completely Unnecessary

By Bryan R. Davies, Senior Director of Enterprise Communications Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

In my first blog in this series, I discussed the reasons enterprise employees are bypassing the IT department when they purchase business software. Most shadow IT users would put it this way: “That’s what I have to do to get my job done efficiently.” In many respects, that short summary goes right to the heart of the matter.

But I’d like to push a little deeper now and examine the place where shadow IT begins – the point where enterprise employees start believing it’s a necessary option. What’s the crucial factor there? Cumbersome processes with long delays? Inferior or out-of-date tools? Or could it involve how those employees are perceived and treated?

We Ask the Experts: How Can VoLTE Outperform Circuit-switched Services?

By Jean Jones, Director, Wireless Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

This second blog in our series begins a discussion of the most basic, yet crucial voice over LTE (VoLTE) question: How can you make sure your 4G voice service works as well — if not better — than familiar 3G wireless services. Your subscribers’ expectations are high now, as VoLTE services are launched on a larger scale. And they’re looking for carrier-grade quality.

To satisfy these expectations (and reap all the benefits of VoLTE), you need to start with a new way of thinking about service deployment. According to the VoLTE experts I’ve talked to, that means developing an end-to-end strategy. Then, ideally, carrying out your plan with the help of a cross-functional team.

We Ask The Experts: A Blog Series on Real-World VoLTE Deployments

By: Jean Jones, Director, Wireless Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

The reasons for deploying voice over LTE (VoLTE) are simple and straightforward. The service delivers better voice quality, boosts efficiency and opens up a wider world of revenue opportunities. But the process of deploying VoLTE is more intricate. And it involves unique considerations that are still unfamiliar to many wireless network providers.

That’s why we’re launching a new blog series, based on my interviews with our VoLTE experts. Each blog will offer key lessons and tips to help your VoLTE deployment proceed smoothly and successfully. These insights come straight from our team’s experience with leading VoLTE deployments in North America.

The Secret Value of VoLTE -- Helping Enterprises Cut the Cord

By Ed Elkin, Director, IP Platforms Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent 

Businesses are always looking for new and better ways to reduce costs and boost productivity.  For decades, they’ve relied on customer premise systems that are increasingly inflexible and costly for today’s needs.  Now, voice over LTE (VoLTE) and cloud changes that old scenario, enabling the enterprise CIO to implement a mobile-first strategy that includes an ever-changing application mixture.  It gives enterprises a way to cut costs dramatically for employees who are on the move — while setting the stage to enhance all employees’ productivity.

This opportunity is a generational shift for Enterprises and Service Providers.  I’ll discuss the mobile aspect in this blog — the second in my three-part series on the value of VoLTE.  You should also check out Bryan Davies’ blog series to hear his ideas on how you can meet the changing needs of the enterprise.

The Secret Value of VoLTE

By Ed Elkin, Director, IP Platforms Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent 

At Mobile World Congress, I discovered that many network providers still aren’t aware of the broader business values of voice over LTE (VoLTE).  Most knew it readily includes HD voice for clearer calls and reduced background noise, which lets you feel like you’re standing right next to the other person. Most didn’t realize that, in unexpected ways, VoLTE helps them earn more money and increase efficiency.

How to Kill Shadow IT: Step One - Recognize that Resistance is Futile

By Bryan R. Davies, Senior Director of Enterprise Communications Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

The first step in resolving any problem is to make sure you understand the core issues. So here’s the crucial question for shadow IT: What is the biggest challenge it presents for your IT department?

Holding back the flood?  

Today’s flood of mobile devices and cloud services is making shadow IT a bigger headache than ever before. But it’s nothing new. It started with the first enterprise employee who ever put an application in place without the knowledge or approval of IT staff.

Agile Optical Networking Breaks Speed Records and Meets Customer Demands

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

With adequate bandwidth and network speeds now a cornerstone of life for both businesses and consumers, optical transport is increasingly becoming a key solution for network operators.

The market for optical network equipment is expected to reach $15 billion by 2018, according to research firm, Dell’Oro. Optical transport of the 100G variety is expected to make up 80 percent of that demand.

Communications Industry Researchers (CIR) also recently released a report predicting that the market for 400G will hit $528 million by 2019, and the market for supporting optical components and silicon devices will reach $195 million that year.

Clearly, optical networking matters. It is easy to see why when looking at the recent achievements of Alcatel-Lucent’s agile optical networking technologies.

Metro Transport Networks in Trouble?

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor Spoiler alert: The added capacity of 100G-capable transport systems will not be enough to meet the coming demand within Metro Transport Networks. First, there are numbers that have service providers worried. A recent Bell Labs study...

Tuck Telekom with Alcatel-Lucent Help Achieves Data Transfer World Record with 100G Optical Transport

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

How much data can be pushed along a single fiber cable in a commercial network?  The answer is roughly 8 Terabits per second, according to a new Guinness World Record.

Türk Telekom, Turkey’s leading telecom service provider, broke the record with help from Alcatel-Lucent Agile Optical Networking technology, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent post. The record, which is the equivalent of transferring 250 high definition movies across the cable per second, relied on Alcatel-Lucent’s 100G optical technology. The transmission took place between Ankara and Istanbul on the Türk Telekom dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) backbone network in the summer of 2013.

Metro Transport Networks Need to Get More Efficient or Choke on Tomorrow's Data

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Metro transport networks are in for a rough ride in the next few years if steps are not taken to ameliorate the impending bandwidth challenge they will face.

Metro networks are expected to grow in traffic by 560 percent by 2017, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent TechZine post, Retool Metro Transport Networks with Packet-Optimized WDM. That’s because, thanks to the cloud and increasing video usage, the percentage of overall network data is increasingly happening in metro networks. In 2012, 57 percent of data traffic terminated in the metro network. By 2017, according to Alcatel-Lucent estimates, 75 percent will terminate in metro networks.

The short-term solution is to add bandwidth through the addition of higher capacity 100G-capable transport systems. But this is only a quick fix.

Advancing Utility IP Migration Takes Time and Care

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

This is the third in the three part series looking at how IP, which has been playing an important role in business transformation for some time, now has become critical to the utilities industry as it is leveraging the transformation of communications networks to IP to maximize smart grid deployments. In short, taking full advantage of things like smart metering and big data means to improve usage, real-time information and improved interoperability.

The future of the smart grid has unfolded slowly partially because adoption is more than a technology issue, and because while businesses want reliability, utilities demand it; a cautious IP migration is almost a given. In fact, part of the path to adoption goes through social challenges, not just technology investment.

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