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SDN architectures

Colt Boasts Multi-Operator SDN Service Breakthrough

Pan-European network operator Colt says it has teamed up with a Tier 1 US operator for a significant breakthrough in carrier SDN development by enabling SDN-managed services to be set up and run across multiple networks in just minutes and managed and flexed in real time.

The move is significant as it creates a template by which service provider partners can dynamically instantiate new services in a matter of minutes over each other's networks: Colt Technology Services Group Ltd plans to share the relevant network-to-network interface (NNI) and API code with the broader community and will work with the MEF to make that happen.

Speaking at the SDN World Congress in The Hague, Mirko Voltolini, vice president of technology and architecture at Colt, noted that the two operators developed Ethernet and SDN interfaces that enabled the North American operator to locate a service on the Colt On Demand portal, set up a data service, run video over the connection, flex the available bandwidth and then shut the service down all within 10 minutes. (The Colt team declined to discuss the identity of the US partner, but Light Reading believes it is AT&T.)

"The full lifecycle of a service was tested," noted Voltolini, but he noted that there is still "lots of work to be done to test this further but I'm not sure is there anything else like this currently – we have tested this in real time with our partner from our offices," added the Colt man.


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In addition to that further work, Voltolini says the plan is to develop the SDN NNI concept further through the MEF as API standards are needed if such multi-operator interconnections are to be scalable and cost-effective to implement with multiple partners. "We're going to work to develop a common API through the MEF… we want to get everyone on board for this. There's work to be done on the software side" and that needs to be done within the broader community, noted the Colt man.

"This is very cool -- I haven't heard about any other carriers doing this," says Michael Howard, senior research director and advisor on carrier networks at IHS Markit. "Colt has been an innovator for some time in SDN and NFV and it's clear that Colt and its partner operator trust each other. What's important to note here is that this kind of development cannot happen without support from the very top of the organizations involved, right from the CEO level," adds Howard.

Colt has been at the vanguard of carrier SDN deployments for a number of years and has had a greater appetite than many other operators to try new technologies and develop new ways of delivering services.

This time last year it launched its SDN-based Novitas platform upon which it has launched four services for its enterprise customers – DCNet On Demand (for Data Center interconnect), Ethernet On Demand, DCA (Dedicated Cloud Access) On Demand and, announced today, SD-WAN On Demand, an extension of the operator's existing SD-WAN service that has been developed using technology from Versa Networks.

"That's four services launched in the past year -- the lifecycle to develop and launch a new service is getting shorter," stated Voltolini.

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

Carol Wilson 10/12/2016 | 10:13:58 AM
The end-to-end service dream I will definitely look forward to hearing more about this at the MEF event. Certainly being able to provision service quickly across a multi-carrier network has been an industry goal for a long time. The question is, can the industry get from one-off tests like this to the next step of letting this happen more fluidly, without every carrier having to work through a separate process with each potential partner. 
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