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Intune Waxes Lyrical Over Metro SDN

Ray Le Maistre

Pretty much every communications network equipment vendor still breathing is looking at how its key products might fit into a world of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization, but Irish packet-optical systems vendor Intune Networks is more excited than most about its prospects should SDN actually take off.

That's because the vendor's platform development has long involved the separation of data, control and management planes, explains the company's chief marketing officer, Richard Brandon (who is only one letter away from being a goatee-bearded, stunt-loving, hot-air-balloon flying entrepreneur).

Those distributed architecture attributes were tried and tested in a European Union-funded project called MAINS (Metro Architectures Enabling Sub-Wavelengths) that was completed in 2012 and tested again in a metro-distance virtual Ethernet switch trial undertaken by the R&D team at Telefónica SA. (See this Intune press release on the Telefónica test and Intune Joins Telefónica Project.)

That architecture makes Intune's iVX8000 platform ready-made for a SDN-enabled metro network and for being managed by third-party SDN controllers, the types of which that are being developed by numerous networking and IT vendors. So, following requests from "a number of operators and IT players," says Brandon, Intune is developing an interface to add to the iVX8000 that will enable SDN controllers to "populate the forwarding fabric of the system," notes the vendor.

The end result would, according to Brandon, bring to wide area metro networks the kind of networking capabilities that are possible within a data center's local area network. "We'll be able to make a WAN look and behave like a LAN," claims the Intune man. "Within the context of extending data center networking capabilities to the metro, I think we're ahead of the game, not because we're ahead on SDN but because we're further advanced in delivering a distributed network. It's very difficult to apply SDN to the WAN unless you build the network with distributed switching," he states.

Brandon says the new interface is due to be added as part of a software upgrade to the iVX8000 that is currently targeted for September and that, while the interface will be developed to communicate with multiple types of controller, the focus will be on OpenFlow and any other standards developed by the Open Networking Foundation, of which Intune is now a member.

Brandon adds that Intune is currently talking to a number of SDN controller vendors (which he couldn't name) to arrange tests.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
1/24/2014 | 9:39:50 AM
re: Intune Waxes Lyrical Over Metro SDN

Given the recent announcement for the appointment of a "Reciver" from BDO by the board, where does Intune now stand? Any updates you have would be appreciated

Maurice In Dallas TX
User Rank: Light Beer
1/17/2013 | 6:08:29 PM
re: Intune Waxes Lyrical Over Metro SDN
Interesting post. Any idea what kinds of data center capabilities a carrier might want to extend to a metro network that this might support?
Ray Le Maistre
Ray Le Maistre,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/17/2013 | 9:12:38 AM
re: Intune Waxes Lyrical Over Metro SDN
I believe Intune sees its advantage in the combination of its existing decomposed architecture + being able to connect with 3rd party controllers and not just because it's going to have an API that enables management by an OpenFlow controller. Anyone can do the latter -- it's the former that Intune says has attracted attention in terms of potential builds of a new type of network.-á
But.... the proof is in the pudding, as us gluttons in Britland like to say. Let's see an operator put this through its paces and see what happens.

And as for that Tier 1.... the company is certainly not backtracking on that issue but there's no sign as yet of any official announcement.-á
Craig Matsumoto
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/16/2013 | 11:19:14 PM
re: Intune Waxes Lyrical Over Metro SDN
Tying Intune's architecture to outside controllers makes sense, but 1) everybody else is doing that, which kind of dilutes the message, and 2) I have trouble seeing this becoming the big breakthrough Intune needs.

'Course, if it's something their assumed tier 1 customer demanded, then it's a pretty good idea.
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