Nokia today unveiled what it claimed is “the first offering that combines the benefits of cloud computing technologies with the stringent requirements of the core and radio in the telco world”, as the company “continues to innovate and reinvent itself” in its 150th anniversary year.

In a conference call today, Marc Rouanne, EVP of mobile broadband at Nokia Networks, said: “From today there are no borders – telecom and IT are merging, and we are recognising this and acting”.

“All this progress has been fueled by a strong demand from our customers,” he observed.

While operators are embracing cloud technology in order to make their operations more flexible and agile, “we know how different the telco environment is from traditional IT”, the executive said.

This includes requirements for higher reliability, realtime application support, ultra-low latency, and massive data throughtput.

Using technology from Intel, Nokia said that its new offering is the first to address these requirements and “effectively merge the telco and IT domains in one single solution”. It supports “the vision of a more flexible and distributed cloud architecture”, which the vendor said is “the foundation to deliver the latency and data processing requirements of the future”.

As well as addressing key issues in the telco network when moving to the cloud, Nokia also said that AirFrame is fully compliant with IT standards and able to run the most common IT applications in parallel to telco cloud. This also enables operators to not only implement their own NFV strategy, but also expand into new business models, such as renting data centre capacity for customers’ IT applications.

While Nokia underlined that its target market is service providers – whether fixed, mobile or converged – many have large enterprise customer bases who could benefit from this approach. “This will open new ways of delivering the services for them and for us,” Rouanne said.

The Finnish company said that in developing AirFrame, it has invested in “further advancing the data centre hardware technology”, with innovations that will “deliver acceleration capabilities that will help operator customers be more efficient and differentiate themselves in the market”.

When quizzed over the benefits Nokia’s offerings bring over rival solutions from key competitors Ericsson and Huawei, Henri Tervonen, VP of mobile broadband architecture at Nokia Networks, noted two areas: the use of accelerator techniques that will boost performance, particularly in terms of radio networks; and its use of open hardware and software components in order to promote operator deployment flexibility.

The AirFrame solution comprises two elements: cloud servers and switches, which are pre-integrated racks with ultra-dense servers, high performance switches and software defined storage; and a suite of professional services geared toward implementing, monitoring and operating telco cloud data centres.

It is also “ready for 5G”. Indeed, Rouanne said that some of the issues AirFrame is looking to address with regard to latency and throughput are core to many of the use cases being suggested for IoT and 5G.