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Transport SDN Interoperability Demos Show Path to the Future

October 01, 2014

The old saying that, “seeing is believing,” is extremely pertinent when it comes to understanding the vitality and validity of technology capabilities that many would characterize as being very much in ‘hype’ stages of development. This has particularly become the case when it comes to Software Defined Networking (SDN) where there has been much said about vendor-specific solutions and their promise, but where the critical area of interoperability has been an open issue. 

The good news is that September was a month where the industry kicked the SDN interoperability tires as part of the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) Global Transport Software Defined Networking (SDN) interoperability demonstration. Nine vendors participated in the testing which took place in several carrier labs worldwide. Participating companies were: ADVA Optical Networking, Alcatel-Lucent, Ciena, Coriant, Fiberhome, Fujitsu, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., NEC Corporation of America and ZTE. China Mobile, China Telecom, TELUS and Verizon are hosting the testing in their labs.

The testing focused on providing real-world scenarios for vendors and carriers to test prototype Transport SDN technology.

Tests included:

  • OpenFlow extensions developed in the ONF Optical Transport Working Group are being prototyped and tested in the demo in both CDPI and CVNI forms.
  • Prototypes of Controller Northbound interfaces for Service Request and Topology functions developed as an OIF activity.

The framework of the demo is cloud-bursting or application-based bandwidth-on-demand between data center sites. The objective of this real-world use case is to highlight potential deployment of:

  • Transport SDN technology
  • Common interfaces required
  • Needs for interoperability and any operational challenges.

The good news for everyone in the extended SDN community is that the test results will be shared this month.

“The ability to bring vendors into carrier labs to test prototype technology provides unparalleled opportunity for industry-wide collaboration,” said Vishnu Shukla of Verizon and president of the OIF. “This joint work is an initial step in solving the practical issues of implementing transport SDN in commercial networks with the shared goal to make transport networks more programmable in order to enable a new era of dynamic services.”

“We are pleased to join forces with the OIF to demonstrate OpenFlow-based Transport SDN capabilities for and with the world’s leading operators,” said Dan Pitt, executive director of ONF. “ONF is committed to combined efforts like this to achieve interoperability and widespread adoption of open SDN in the service provider community and beyond.”

Getting out of the hype phase and accelerating adoption of OpenFlow and Transport SDN technologies to enable increased network programmability to support a new era of dynamic services, is the goal of OIF and ONF.  And, as noted at the top of this article and in the points being stressed in the test, assuring SDN interoperability between data centers, is critical. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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