& cplSiteName &

UK 'Open' Smart City Shows Faith in SDN

Ray Le Maistre
2/27/2015
50%
50%

Optical equipment specialist Polatis has landed a key role in an "open programmable city" initiative in Bristol, UK, which has deployed the vendor's SDN-enabled optical switches.

The deployment is a key one for Polatis Inc. , as it provides the company with a reference deployment for how its switches can be deployed in a software-defined programmable network, in this instance with OpenFlow as the enabling protocol.

The initiative is also interesting for cities and municipalities, as well as telcos, looking for a networking model that can deliver the flexibility and scale needed to cope with the future demands of cloud services, video, IoT connectivity and capacity-hungry real-time applications not yet developed.

The "Bristol is Open" initiative involves the development of a "digital R&D test bed for a liveable smart city," states Paul Wilson, the managing director of the joint venture between the City Council of Bristol, which is in the west of England with a population of about 450,000, and houses the University of Bristol. "We can claim to be the world's first open programmable city," he adds.

To achieve that project has taken a platform and vendor agnostic approach -- it is not locking into any single supplier or technology -- and has deliberately invested in a high-capacity metro transport network, with 144 optical fibers running through the city's ducts, giving the projects "potentially terabits of capacity," says Wilson, with the Polatis switches enabling a high degree of flexibility, he notes.

That, in turn, opens the door to trying out any application, without constraints. "We have been talking with other smart cities that are facing limitations in what they can do because of their lack of capacity and because their smart city projects have not been coordinated -- they have been developed in silos. We are taking a very collaborative approach," and engaging in a number of experiments that have an impact on society, the most glamorous of which is a driverless car trial, he notes.

That open approach is enabled by the way the underlying networking and IT infrastructure has been developed. Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, CTO of Bristol is Open, says that as far as her team is aware, "This is the first fully deployed SDN city, covering the transport network, Ethernet switches, wireless and IoT platforms [RF sensor mesh]."

Making the network flexible, open and underpinned with large volumes of potential capacity means that further technologies can be connected and multiple applications can be tested over it. "The wireless already includes WIFI and LTE and later in the year we will be adding millimeter wave and Massive MIMO components," technologies now closely associated with 5G.

The city's Planetarium is already connected to the network and enabling new digital displays, including a 3D image of Bristol created using real-time data provided by existing IT systems, sensors and analytics platforms. Next there are plans to run 4K video streams across the network.

The project is diverse but it's not enormous. While Bristol is Open is able to access various physical and IT assets, such as the City Council's duct network, that would otherwise have cost about 75 million (US$116 million) to build from scratch, says Wilson, while 4.3 million ($6.65 million) has been made available for capex and an extra 1 million ($1.55 million) for the Planetarium upgrade.


Want to know more about the emerging SDN market? Check out our dedicated SDN content channel here on Light Reading.


Naturally, Polatis is very keen to highlight its role and the ability of its switches to be programmed by the Bristol is Open SDN controller, which has been developed by Simeonidou's team using OpenDaylight specifications. "We have done a lot of extensions ourselves and have interfaces with OpenStack," which is the OS for the project's cloud platform.

Nick Parsons, CTO at Polatis, tells Light Reading that this is the first time the company's DirectLight OpenFlow-enabled optical switches have been integrated with other network elements in an SDN-controlled network. "We can enable dynamic provisioning of the transport layer and allow it to be sliced up into app segments," says Parsons, adding that the system optical layer protection capabilities also protect against downtime from physical network faults.

Simeonidou, who says Polatis beat out about five other vendors for the role, intends to use that network slicing function to create a new type of service that she calls "city experimentation as a service." (That would be CEaaS.) "We are going to offer virtual slices of the infrastructure that can be used for experimentation in isolation... It will be customized for each user. In terms of providing network slices, we believe this is the first environment for this," says the CTO.

Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
thebulk
50%
50%
thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/28/2015 | 11:40:48 AM
Re: Very exciting model
@SachinEE, I would think this might be a great selling point for any city looking to attract new startups into their city to grow there and pay taxes, ;-)
SachinEE
50%
50%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/27/2015 | 9:34:28 PM
Re: Very exciting model
I too think that way. Software Defined Networking enabled smart city would provide that much of flexibility to the user or any of the businesses inside the city to use the smart city's free space(network storage) as and when they like.
thebulk
50%
50%
thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/27/2015 | 1:52:31 PM
Re: Very exciting model
It seams like a nerds dream home. Big pipes and OTT everything. 
Ray@LR
50%
50%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
2/27/2015 | 1:17:16 PM
Very exciting model
THis looks to me like the kind of architecture that any comms network of any type willn eed in the future -- adaptable transport with oodl;es of capacity that can be sliced and diced with the ability to run any applications over the top.

Looking forward to seeing it in action.
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders grills Cisco's Roland Acra on how he's bringing automation to life inside the data center.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
February 26-28, 2018, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
SmartNICs aren't just about achieving scale. They also have a major impact in reducing CAPEX and OPEX requirements.
Hot Topics
Project AirGig Goes Down to Georgia
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/13/2017
Here's Pai in Your Eye
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 12/11/2017
Verizon's New Fios TV Is No More
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 12/12/2017
Ericsson & Samsung to Supply Verizon With Fixed 5G Gear
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/11/2017
Juniper Turns Contrail Into a Platform for Multicloud
Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading, 12/12/2017
Animals with Phones
Don't Fall Asleep on the Job! Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed