Nokia eyes the cloud infrastructure market with OpenStack, VMware-based servers

Nokia is offering up its own blade servers to the telco world

Nokia is offering up its own blade servers to the telco world

Nokia Networks revealed its AirFrame datacentre solutions this week, high-density blade servers running a combination of OpenStack and VMware software and designed to support Nokia’s virtualised network services for telcos.

“We are taking on the IT-telco convergence with a new solution to challenge the traditional IT approach of the datacentre,” said Marc Rouanne, executive vice president, Mobile Broadband at Nokia Networks.

“This newest solution brings telcos carrier-grade high availability, security-focused reliability as well as low latency, while leveraging the company’s deep networks expertise and strong business with operators to address an increasingly cloud-focused market valued in the tens of billions of euros.”

The servers, which come pre-integrated with Nokia’s own switches, are based on Intel’s x86 chips and run OpenStack as well as VMware, and can be managed using Nokia’s purpose-built cloud management solution. The platforms are ETSI NFV / OPNFV-certified, so they can run Nokia’s own VNFs as well as those developed by certified third parties.

The company’s orchestration software can also manage the split between both virtualised and network legacy functions in either centralised or distributed network architectures.

Phil Twist, vice president of Portfolio Marketing at Nokia Networks told BCN the company designed the servers specifically for the telco world, adding things like iNICs and accelerators to handle the security, encryption, virtual routing, digital signal processing (acceleration for radio) that otherwise would tie up processor capacity in a telco network.

But he also said the servers could be leveraged for standing up its own cloud services, or for the wider scale-out market.

“Our immediate ambition is clear: to offer a better alternative for the build-out of telco clouds optimized for that world.  But of course operators have other in-house IT requirements which could be hosted on this same cloud, and indeed they could then offer cloud services to their enterprise customers on this same cloud,” he explained.

“We could potentially build our own cloud to host SaaS propositions to our customers, or in theory potentially offer the servers for enterprise applications but that’s not our initial focus,” he added.

Though Twist didn’t confirm whether this was indeed Nokia’s first big move towards the broader IT infrastructure market outside networking, the announcement does mean the company will be brought into much closer competition with both familiar (Ericsson, Cisco) and less familiar (HP) incumbents offering their own OpenStack-integrated cloud kit.