Light Reading
Like athletes getting their reps in, equipment vendors should plug away at OpenFlow so the kinks can be worked out, an executive says

Verizon Stresses OpenFlow Workouts

Craig Matsumoto
LR Mobile News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
9/21/2012
50%
50%

Equipment makers should delve into OpenFlow and software-defined networking (SDN) aggressively, so that the eventual standards can be as robust as possible, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) executive Stuart Elby said earlier this week.

That message, as well as an insistence that Verizon doesn't want pure OpenFlow switches any time soon, was part of Elby's keynote talk at the Advaced/MicroTCA Summit.

Elby, in casual dress appropriate for an engineering-heavy conference, spoke on Tuesday and spent generous time hanging out with vendors at the show. He's also been speaking at events such as the symposium put on by the ONF, the group shepherding the OpenFlow specification.

It's all part of Verizon's eager dive into SDN, where the carrier senses the potential to use the network more efficiently (i.e., save money).



Verizon is already using SDN-based traffic engineering in its mobile network. If congestion is preventing a stream from being received at its maximum rate, Verizon dials down that rate to avoid wasting bandwidth.

The process is run by lots of servers overlaying parts of the mobile network, and it's inefficient, with traffic doing "a lot of hairpinning in and out of routers," Elby said. Verizon is working on using OpenFlow or some similar protocol to carve more direct paths through the network.

Verizon also thinks OpenFlow could help with troubleshooting the network. The network is watched by probes everywhere, but it's not feasible to sort through all the data they could gather. ("I'd look like a government agency," Elby said.)

Verizon would rather trigger data collection from certain probes any time something starts going wrong. It would be an ad-hoc data-collection network. That's another project that's in Verizon's labs.

This kind of work-in-progress is essential to making SDN useful, Elby said. OpenFlow "is going to change, but we've got to get experience as to where the pitfalls are."

And it's true that as OpenFlow has dominated conversations for the past year or more, more of its pitfalls have come under study and are now being worked on. Scalability is one; it's still difficult to see OpenFlow being expanded to Internet routing.

The fact that controllers are logically centralized -- you can have more than one, but they're expected to work in concert -- is another, noted David Meyer, an engineer at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and one of the speakers at the conference's OpenFlow seminar.

There's also an issue with memory chips. OpenFlow was written to take advantage of chips already in switches and routers -- namely, ternary content-addressable memories (TCAMs). But the TCAM is the "hottest, most expensive, least efficient part of the forwarding plane," as Meyer put it.

Vendors are already working around that. IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)'s OpenFlow implementation allows some switching rules to get stored in more ordinary memory chips, IBM presenter Rakesh Saha said.

Due to these practical realities, most vendors contend OpenFlow will have to be implemented in hybrid switches -- those that can do OpenFlow but also retain normal Layer 2 forwarding. An implementation like that "allows me to phase in -- carefully, methodically -- OpenFlow/SDN technology without causing the network to crash," Elby said.

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration

11|21|14   |   04:29   |   (7) comments


At the Alcatel-Lucent Technology Symposium, Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how SDN has reshaped the discussion around packet and optical integration.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Highlights at BBWF 2014

11|20|14   |   3:40   |   (1) comment


Broadband World Forum is one of the world's largest telecoms, media and technology events with over 7,800 senior executives from across the globe converging on Amsterdam every year to identify the Next Big Thing. BBWF is an exciting place to meet the entire industry under one roof and identify the latest in network innovation, service optimization and customer ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
How Will BCMS Stimulate Margin for Broadband Operators?

11|19|14   |   6:52   |   (0) comments


In BBWF 2014, Liu Shuqing emphasizes the value of FMC 2.0 based full service experience by throwing light on the BCMS solution. The underlying principle of this innovative technique is to create network robustness and driving network from connection oriented to ACE – BAND oriented infrastructure, in which applications, cloud, and user experiences will be an asset ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
SingleFAN3.0: Better Connected Experience

11|19|14   |   3:06   |   (1) comment


At the BBWF 2014, David Hu, the VP of Huawei Access Network Product Line, talked about the future of access networks – SingleFAN3.0: faster broadband, wider coverage, and smarter connection.
LRTV Interviews
Basil Alwan Interview: The Road to Cloud

11|19|14   |   09:09   |   (0) comments


Alcatel-Lucent's head of IP and Transport talks about the migration towards a web-like networking environment, the impact of the cloud, SDN and NFV, and the yet-to-be-announced FP4 chip.
LRTV Documentaries
FairPoint Makes a Fair Point About Analytics

11|19|14   |   1:56   |   (1) comment


The US-based communication service provider gets to grips with advanced analytics, tackling data and breaking down the silos within its own business.
LRTV Documentaries
Analytics Lets C Spire Get to Know Subs

11|19|14   |   3:01   |   (2) comments


It's all about the data for US operator C Spire as it uses analytics to personalize its customer service down to individual subscribers.
LRTV Interviews
Nuage Branches Out With SDN: CEO Interview

11|17|14   |   9:32   |   (0) comments


Sunil Khandekar, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent's SDN-focused unit Nuage Networks, talks about the opportunities and challenges of breaking out of the data center into wide-area networks.
Light Reedy
Telecom Analytics Grows Up

11|14|14   |   1:15   |   (4) comments


The big data analytics debate has moved on from a year ago, with some experts suggesting it's no longer a technology challenge.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Compass

11|14|14   |   3:17   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Shuo Yang, Huawei Principal Cloud Infrastructure Architect introduced Huawei Compass, the software tool for solving customers' problems on the journey of OpenStack Cloud.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Cloud Strategy in European Region

11|14|14   |   2:56   |   (1) comment


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dr. Gotz, CTO of Huawei IT in European Region introduced Huawei's cloud strategy in European region.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Contribution on OpenStack

11|14|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


At OpenStack Summit 2014, Dennis Gu, Huawei Chief Architect of Cloud Computing introduced the relationship between OpenStack and cloud computing, and Huawei's contribution on OpenStack.
Upcoming Live Events
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 8-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 12, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Irish Telecom outlines the rise of VoIP technology, including its adoption within businesses and their perception of its quality.
Hot Topics
Bell Labs Chief Slams 'Toy' Networks
Robert Clark, 11/19/2014
$38.3M: Ain't That a Kik in the SMS
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/20/2014
Do You Have a 2020 Vision?
Dennis Mendyk, Vice President of Research, Heavy Reading, 11/21/2014
Google, AT&T, BT Unite on Network Data Models
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 11/20/2014
The New Wave of IP + Optical Integration
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 11/21/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed