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Ericsson CTO: Let's Redefine SDN

Ray Le Maistre

AMSTERDAM -- Broadband World Forum -- Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) CTO Ulf Ewaldsson today called for a hybrid approach to software-defined networking (SDN), dubbed "Service Provider SDN," tailored to the needs of network operators.

Addressing the media and industry analysts here in Amsterdam early Tuesday, Ewaldsson said that the "SDN definition should be extended" to cater for the requirements of telcos.

"SDN is not just about OpenFlow and routers. It's about being able to create an abstraction layer, a control plane, to connect what is happening in networks, data centers and private clouds and tie in OSS/BSS features," especially analytics functionality, "with that control plane. It's also about network exposure. The OTT players are leading the way in service creation and they want access to network functionality, such as IMS [IP Multimedia Subsystem], to make it easier to create new applications." (See OpenFlow Taps the Brakes and OpenFlow Keeps Buzzing.)

So the Ericsson definition of Service Provider SDN is a combination of an abstracted control plane, the exposure of telco network APIs and big data analytics.

This isn't something that Ewaldsson expects to see evolve overnight -- this is a "long-term evolution … more than five years." And that's just as well as there's no talk of any specific products at this point. "When we talk to service providers we get the feeling they want to migrate to this, using their installed base of routers and other network assets but with a new network architecture. That is one of the holy grails -- to find the new architecture, one that also incorporates media and CDNs [content delivery networks]."

The big question here, though, is whether anyone will be accepting of any new definition of SDN when most people are still grappling with what the "old" definition is all about. So does Ericsson intend to engage with industry forums such as the Open Networking Foundation as it seeks to redefine SDN for telcos? Ewaldsson is less sure on this, saying only that the vendor is engaged with the relevant industry bodies.

What he is convinced about is general support from the major carriers for an industry effort to combine SDN functionality with open API strategies. "The big U.S. carriers are doing this. AT&T and Verizon are opening up their networks -- they want their network to be a platform" for new service development and they're looking for help from the vendors to make this happen, said the CTO.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:04 PM
re: Ericsson CTO: Let's Redefine SDN


So SDN is a just a new name for whatever of what every vendor has been trying to sell for the past decade?



User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:04 PM
re: Ericsson CTO: Let's Redefine SDN

Interesting post.

I'm hearing that carriers will look to monetize SDN by offering end users the ability to obtain a certain amount of bandwidth for a certain time to support a specific app requiring specific paramters involving latency, jitter, etc.

So ultimately I would think it would be critical for enterprise SDN & carrier SDN to be developed in tandem.


Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:19:02 PM
re: Ericsson CTO: Let's Redefine SDN

Right, standards bodies are in this as well.  There's a little bit of truth to this being "same stuff they were already selling," because all the vendors were already making plans for a software-heavy future.  I think the sudden popularity of OpenFlow, which forced the larger SDN discussion, caught a lot of them flat-footed at first.

Most of the talk has been at the data center level, so Ericsson is right to note that a carrier-grade discussion needs to emerge.

I don't know if I want to see a whole new term emerge as well. But I do agree that SDN would benefit from having more of a service provider angle.

User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:19:02 PM
re: Ericsson CTO: Let's Redefine SDN

Vendors are not alone in this. ONF, IETF and ITU are all looking at SDN and re(de)fining it to meet their various purposes.

User Rank: Lightning
12/5/2012 | 5:19:00 PM
re: Ericsson CTO: Let's Redefine SDN

Carrier exchanges will start to look more like Data Centres given time. At present there is still too much legacy technology in the exchange and that is holding back the transition but it will come.

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