Nokia is turning the notion of highly centralised data centres on its head by allowing mobile operators to spread data center functions across their networks, enabling customer data to be handled locally and thereby boosting the speed of network services. These local datacentres can then be connected to and backed up by centralised, large data centres.
Normally data centres are massive facilities used to house vast amounts of computers needed to run the most demanding Web and mobile services.
By taking a modular approach, Nokia’s data centres come in pizza box-sized services and provide operators with ultradense computing power they can install alongside existing antennas and base station gear that connect callers in local areas to wider voice and data networks.
Nokia’s AirFrame data centre products will allow data processing capacity to be shared by adjacent base station cell sites or by a centralised data centre when any particular part of the network becomes congested with mobile users.
“It is entirely practical to put these anywhere that you might put a base station, for example,” said Phil Twist, a Nokia Networks executive. “You can actually put the processing right to the edge (of the network)”, he said, which means mobile phone users would not get many of the delays they currently experience in watching video or downloading emails.
Telecom network operators are keen to build data centres to reduce the cost of hardware spending within their networks, improve services they offer subscribers and to obtain the Web-wide reach of the big internet companies.
The new data centre offering puts Nokia in competition with technology suppliers such as Hewlett-Packard and Cisco, while its larger rival in the network gear business, Ericsson, has also recently entered the data centre market with products based on Intel’s platform.
“Nokia’s announcement shows an openness that is distinct from similar approaches by Ericsson, HP and others,” said Elisabeth Rainge from technology market research firm IDC.
Nokia is set to become the world’s second-biggest network equipment maker once it completes its takeover of French rival Alcatel-Lucent.