Nokia has been awarded a contract by Microsoft to provide its data centre switches for the Microsoft Azure cloud.
Under this contract, Nokia will be supplying 7250IXR chassis routers to Microsoft, enabling the company to shift to 400 Gigabit Ethernet (400GE) in its Tier-2 network architecture. Moreover, it will enable other network hardware for Microsoft network applications.
The Nokia switches will be available as chassis-based systems (with upgradeable card modules) and fixed-form-factor switches (boxed units) for usage in top of rack (TOR), leaf, spine, and super-spine applications. Nokia is now supporting 400GE, but has promised 800GE in the future, along with a complete IP and Ethernet feature sets.
Nokia launched their data centre switch architecture in 2020, which is compliant with Microsoft’s open-source ‘Sonic’ data centre networking software platform. And the networking software platform was licenced for widespread usage in 2016 under the Open Compute Project. Sonic’s goal is to make data centre networks more commoditized by limiting proprietary switching.
“Today’s data centres have their own unique operational challenges,” said Vach Kompella, Nokia’s Vice President for its IP Networks Division. “For some time now, Nokia has been working closely with Microsoft to understand its evolving data center demands and requirements.”
Microsoft Azure Networking’s Technical Fellow and Corporate Vice President, David Maltz, said, “Nokia’s platforms were a natural choice to deliver the massive-scale interconnectivity that Microsoft requires. Nokia brings density, performance and flexibility to Microsoft data center networks and cloud environments and is partnering with Microsoft Azure to deliver chassis switches running the open-source networking operating system SONIC.”
Microsoft presumably has secured a good deal, as the specifics of the contract were not made public. Nokia might have agreed to the pricing and the terms and conditions put on the table by the cloud giant just to improve its reputation in the data center industry.
Nokia has recently achieved substantial network advancements. It’s a key player in the transition to open radio access networks (OpenRAN), and it recently earned the right to replace Huawei in BT’s networks after the Chinese vendor was barred for security grounds. Nokia is also building a 4G network for NASA on the Moon. Less to Nokia’s credit, it was recently revealed that it constructed surveillance systems for the Russian government.