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Closing cloud circles: thoughts on Alcatel-Lucent’s NFV announcement

I’m must admit, today is a special day for me, where we close a few circles and become part of a much larger circle – in the core of Alcatel-Lucent.

Today Michel Combes unveiled our strategy for Network Function Virtualization (NFV). Read the press release

You’ll see this becoming a major pillar of what we do as a company, where our investments are, and what we will drive the telecom industry to do.

This is a special day for a few reasons:

1. We started down this path in early 2010, when a few of us in Alcatel-Lucent were tasked with identifying the next major disruption in the industry. This led to the creation of the CloudBand and to a concept we called “virtual telco” or “vTelco.” This is exactly the same as what the industry now calls NFV (I’d argue that NFV is simultaneously the most ambitious and yet most poorly named initiative we’ve seen in our industry for a long time, but bygones…).

2. As you may expect – many in the industry thought we were completely nuts. To be honest, many in Alcatel-Lucent thought the same as well. “Why would anyone want to virtualize a network function, it will hurt performance, and may not save too much CAPEX?”

3. It took a few years , for us, and mainly for a few innovative customers to be able to make the case that aligned the industry on this. We had to explain that the goal was not to get to the same performance on a general server, but to fundamentally simplify the network, make it more dynamic, and drive significant operational costs out of the business through automation, multi tenancy, and commonality.

4. So, back to the timeline, in early 2011 we decided to create a new organic team and build a platform that would make NFV possible. We decided to do this in Israel. Why Israel? Because we were looking for a combination of a few key attributes in the people that could make this happen – and Israel offered a unique place to find these attributes:Multi-disciplinary talent pool of exceptional people that would bring together different knowledge, skills and point of views — only a true melting pot could make this happen. We needed people from the datacenter space, from cloud industry and from the telecommunications industry.Highly entrepreneurial spirit of people who were passionate about changing the world, weren’t afraid to fail along the way, and have completely forgotten that the word “impossible” exists.Strong eco-system surrounding the team of other companies in the space, covering telecom, storage, virtualization, analytics, DC networking, PaaS, security and OSS. One would be hard pressed to find a better eco-system anywhere else (except potentially in Silicon Valley). Within a 10 mile radius of our office we have: Intel (the site where multi core was invented), Redhat (the site where KVM was invented), Amdocs (OSS), Google (where the Google app engine is developed), EMC and IBM (where their cloud storage plays and “big data” plays were invented), Radware, Checkpoint, and many, many, many startups.Fast and Furious – We knew we had to move fast. We needed a team that could build and at the same time deliver the first product within 1 year. We delivered that exactly. We found the leaders: gave it 3 months for the core team to gell and 9 months after that we delivered CloudBand R1.0 — the first and most complete NFV platform in the market today. We are now finishing up release 7 of CloudBand.

So why is this a special day for me? Because the circles are closing today.

Michel is making his announcement – formally marking that NFV is a major part of what this company is about – and he’s doing so out of our CloudBand HQ in Israel – where it all began!

I couldn’t be prouder of the team that came together from across the industry to make this happen. Yet, this is just the beginning – hold onto your seats to see how the industry will change with NFV.

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