Ericsson CTO: Let's Redefine SDN
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