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 Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie about the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control – and sign up for ...
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
LRTV Interviews
Bob Wilson, Arsenal Legend: The Light Reading Interview

1|16|15   |   35:36   |   (3) comments


Arsenal goalkeeping legend Bob Wilson was Light Reading's guest interviewee at the 2020 Vision Executive Summit in December. See what the former soccer star and sports broadcaster had to say when he took to the stage in Iceland.
LRTV Custom TV
What MEF Third Network Initiative Means for SDN & NFV

1|14|15   |   6:13   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss discusses the importance of the MEF Third Network initiative and why it's good news for SDN/NFV industry initiatives.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Frank Miller: Distributed Solutions are the Best Build for the Future - Part II

1|9|15   |   2:46   |   (0) comments


At SCTE, Frank Miller, Global CTO of MSO at Huawei, speaks about Cable 2.0 and its innovative future.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
BlackBerry Wants Net Neutrality Protection -- That's Just Sad
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/22/2015
FiOS Picks Up Pace Again
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 1/22/2015
Verizon Ready for Google MVNO Challenge
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/22/2015
Indiana Carrier Takes Fiber to the Farm
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/22/2015
The New Internet Space Race: Google's Final Frontier?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/21/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive