The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), the organization responsible for North American telecom standards, will soon announce an initiative for software defined networking (SDN), aimed at defining carrier-grade SDN best practices and more.
The new program is a response to member concerns -- ATIS membership includes major North American telecom operators and vendors -- and the realization that SDN will have a major impact on telecom networks and how they are operated, says Joe Rostock, ATIS's chief technologist.
"There are both opportunities and risks, where SDN is concerned, for telecom operators," Rostock says. "We will be looking at both the positive and negative views of SDN as it relates to operators."
The positive aspects are the more obvious. By separating the control plane and the data plane, SDN opens the door to network virtualization, with greater flexibility and potentially lower costs.
But by changing the way traffic is controlled, SDN affects many different parts of the network, and there are risks inherent in that process, Rostock says. Part of the ATIS group's effort will be to identify those risks and develop best practices for addressing them.
OpenFlow is the best known approach to SDN, but telecom operators and vendors generally agree that carrier-grade SDN needs much more. (See Ericsson CTO: Let's Redefine SDN and The Lowdown on Service Provider SDN.)
One thing the group won't do is get into a prolonged standards process that will slow down SDN, Rostock promises, because the reality is this trend is bigger than the telecom space. He expects results from this ATIS group in a matter of months, not years.
"We are taking a cue from the over-the-top guys," Rostock says. "I don't think our industry is going to wait for standards; it will be a more organic initiative. There will have to be a settling-in of standards that makes things simple and drives costs out of the network, but I see SDN being implemented organically in components in a network, and then ultimately becoming a more robust part of the network."
â€” Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading