Innovations: Calling in a cloud

The concept behind CloudBand is essentially to build little data centers in a way that what is used is the best technology in the IT space, such as open-source programs, low costs servers.

Calling in a Cloud (photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)
Calling in a Cloud
(photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)
Large-Scale telecommunications base stations may soon be history. CloudBand, an Israeli unit of French telecom giant Alcatel-Lucent, has begun rolling out the next generation of cloud-based platforms for telecom service providers.
Today, a telecom service provider, such as Bezeq or Orange, needs to purchase and deploy dedicated boxes of hardware made by different vendors for every new service it wants to offer its clients. Rolling out these boxes takes a long time and the networks are complex to build and manage. First, the telecom provider has to estimate the peak demand for each one of these new services, and then it needs to purchase the boxes of hardware and stack them one on top of another to meet the demand, knowing all too well that they are actually going to run underutilized most of the time.
And because every hardware box is custom made by a specific vendor but also includes components from a number of companies, the supply chain is not a smooth one. Every component of the unit requires installation by an expert from a different company, so getting the system up and running takes a long time, as does increasing capacity should this become necessary.
All this results in a network that is expensive to manage, and requires a company to have enough foresight to predict what services its clients will require in the years to come, as it takes about 18 months to get all the new hardware in place.
However, all of this is about to change, says Dor Skuler, vice president and general manager of CloudBand. Skuler tells The Jerusalem Report that if these companies were to switch to CloudBand’s solution, not only would they save money, but they would also achieve greater flexibility to meet the ever-changing demands of their customers.
Skuler says that over the last couple of years, there has been a shift towards what is known as NFV, or network function virtualization. What this means is that many of the new services that telecom providers are offering are predominately software based; and instead of buying andbuilding dedicated silos of hardware per service, a better solution is to create a cloud and then deploy these services and applications on top of that cloud.
With a cloud-based solution, telecom providers don’t need a complicated rollout, Skuler explains.
Instead, they only need to invest once in shared infrastructure and then all new applications can be added to the network very quickly. Scaling up becomes much simpler too, thus significantly lowering costs.
According to Skuler, CloudBand foresaw that this was going to happen, and “we foresaw that many of these networking functions could run as cloud-based software, as opposed to hardware.”
However, since telecom is different from IT, with its big data centers, Skuler says that what is needed are many smaller data centers. The concept behind CloudBand is essentially to build little data centers in a way that what is used is the best technology in the IT space, such as open-source programs, low costs servers – all this with full automation so that less personnel are needed to operate the system and there are less experts on site. CloudBand’s technology has already captured the attention of Deutsche Telekom in Germany and Telefónica in Spain.