Not wanting to create the perception that their solutions are behind the times and anything less than state of the art, the telecommunications equipment vendors are always fast to embrace the next thing. However, the reality is that adopting new technology/methodology into diverse multivendor elements that comprise a service provider’s (SP) network is a significant undertaking. This has caused some of the larger content service providers such as Google and Facebook to undertake the building and deployment of their own private infrastructures to support their businesses. Because users’ demand for content delivery is outpacing the cost per bit to deliver the data, traditional SPs are getting squeezed. Simultaneously, the time to turn up a service offering has become a real and competitive advantage. This has forced SPs to look toward new approaches such as software-defined networking (SDN) to reduce service turn-up times and better leverage the infrastructure to support content delivery and achieve CapEx and OpEx benefits. But for SDN to deliver on these benefits it must work in a multivendor environment and end to end across all services supporting elements in the network.
Currently, this level of SDN deployment has only been achieved in a couple of private networks with proprietary implementations undertaken by the providers. Although this validates the need and benefits of SDN it by no means makes it mainstream. The question remains, how long will it be before SPs can implement SDN in a key portion of their networks such as optical transport? Examining some recently published vendor activity indicates just how ready for prime time this technology really is.
April 11, 2013, Ciena to Showcase Service Provider SDN at Open Networking Summit. Ciena demonstrated two service scenarios that leveraged the automation and central intelligence of its OPn network architecture to show automated provisioning, virtualization and bandwidth on demand.
June 12, 2013, Cyan to Demonstrate the First SDN Application Spanning Enterprise, WAN and Data Center Environments at Interop Tokyo. This demo tested several use cases and showed interoperability between vendors. Cyan’s goal was to demonstrate the virtualization of the data center and network resources. It included members of the recently formed Blue Orbit Ecosystem
June 18, 2013, Coriant announces Intelligent Optical Control (IOC), industries first solution advancing SDN for optical networks. Coriant claims its solution, which is the first, allows for the optimization of the optical portion of the network. Its solution reduces CapEx by as much as 50 percent.
June 24, 2013, Infinera Demonstrates Transport SDN and Packet Technology on DTN-X Platform at Nissho Labs. This demo featured the DTN-X working with an external SDN controller and different network applications. It provisioned bandwidth on demand using OpenFlow and included VLAN switching and MPLS pseudo-wire transport over a 500G super-channel.
Although these press releases are show demos or lab trials they are key indicators of market direction and vendor uptake — to get to the demonstration stage the equipment vendors have invested in development resources to achieve this level of interoperability. The testing also helps harden the solution as nuances are identified and addressed by the vendors; it is a gauge of the technology maturity level of the solution. Multivendor environments must operate end-to-end to receive the full value and promise of an SDN networking environment. At this stage, at least for the optical transport portion of the network the equipment, vendors seem very committed to SDN and are poised to begin delivery of SDN ready systems in earnest as soon as 2014.
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