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Infinera Flexes Its Multi-Layer Muscles

Dan O'Shea

Infinera has made a trio of announcements around multi-layer transport network control and flexibility that just might help it gain a reputation as a table-setter for carrier-grade software-defined networking (SDN).

Ahead of OFC 2014, the company has unveiled a new flexible-grid, colorless/directionless/contentionless ROADM linecard; a GMPLS-based unified control plane for spectrum-switched optical networking (SSON); and the third-generation of Infinera's 500 Gbit/s flexible-grid, super-channel capability -- all with the intent of bring greater automation and flexibility to multi-layer digital and optical transport networks. (See Infinera Automates Multi-layer Transport Networks.)

According to Mark Showalter, senior director of marketing at Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN), automating the lowers layers of the network is a fundamentally important step in helping carriers develop, and fully leverage, SDN architectures.

"What we're doing completely aligns with what carriers are doing with SDN," he says. "You're not going to get to carrier SDN until you have an automated optical transport layer. You need to automate Layers 0-3 to get to there."

Showalter further notes that "to automate the optical layer, you need a flexible ROADM that can respond to software controls, and a unified control plane that becomes the mediator between our FlexROADM and the software-defined network."

The SSON control plane -- based on Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) specifications that are en route to becoming a standard -- enables the switching of flexible-grid super-channels at the optical layer, as well as service provisioning through the digital OTN switching framework. The new products and capabilities will be deliverable to Infinera DTN-X customers in September.

"Defining Transport SDN" is one of a number of key topics that will feature at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE), June 17/18 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers.

Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), which just announced an SDN-based network-as-a-service innovation with Infinera, also endorsed this move via a statement in Infinera's press release, though it is not clear if Telefónica is the initial deployer. (See Telefónica, Infinera Team on SDN-Enabled NaaS .)

Infinera is doing its part here to soothe the concerns of carrier executives, such as Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) director of Optical Transport Networks Architecture & Design Glenn Wellbrock, who have wondered if the optical layer gets left behind as the rest of the network shifts to SDN, and have been awaiting flexible ROADMs as part of the potential solution. (See Optical SDN Could Require Vendor-Specific Help and Infinera: SDN Can Master Optical Layer.)

Unfortunately for Infinera, though, its multi-layer developments weren't enough to get its foot in the door at Verizon during the Tier 1 carrier's recent optical transport equipment selection process. (See Analyst: Infinera Loses VZ Deal to AlcaLu.)

The vendor, though, seems to be finding plenty of traction elsewhere. (See Infinera: We're Fine, Thanks…)

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

Interested in SDN? At Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago (June 17-18), Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Sterling Perrin will be discussing his latest research on the most promising path forward for software-defined networking (SDN) in the transport segment of the telecom network, where virtualization will have a very different impact than in the datacenter environs where it started. Click here to find out more about BTE and here to register for the event.

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User Rank: Blogger
3/8/2014 | 4:32:44 PM
Re: Settling down ahead of SDN...
I've talked to a few other companies in advance of OFC, and it sounds preparing the photonics layer for the arrival of SDN is going to be one of the major themes of the event.
User Rank: Blogger
3/4/2014 | 2:16:42 PM
Settling down ahead of SDN...
Now there are signs of the market euphoria over SDN settling down -- it's time to prepare for the potential of SDN, while NFV is here and now and doesn't have to wait.

It'll be interesting to gauge the mood at OFC next week on matters SDN...
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