SDN architectures

Fujitsu Embraces Disaggregated Optical Model

As optical vendors have begun to bring more programmability to their architectures in a nod to the SDN evolution progressing at higher layers of the network, Fujitsu has, until now, been fairly quiet on the subject.

Behind the scenes, though, it has been adapting and evolving its transport platform in line with the demands of the New IP era, as Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. CTO Rod Naphan suggested during his recent in-depth chat with Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders. (See CEO Chat With Rod Naphan, Fujitsu Network Communications.)

And now the vendor has announced plans for an open, disaggregated optical platform, dubbed 1FINITY, that will operate more like a blade-based system than a large-scale converged hardware chassis. (See Fujitsu Unveils Disaggregated Architecture Offering.)

"It's a blade-centric architecture as opposed to be being a traditional hardware chassis," said Jeff Babbitt, principal solutions architect at Fujitsu Network Communications. "One reason why we have had monolithic hardware chassis in the past is ease of management, but SDN promises us multivendor management, so you can disaggregate these pieces." (See Fujitsu Unveils Disaggregated Architecture Offering.)

As an optical supplier to some very large telcos, such as Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), Babbitt said Fujitsu is well aware of the inherent risk that incumbent vendors face with the arrival of SDN, but believes embracing the movement is better than holding out.

"There is inherent risk, but we strongly feel that carriers want to move in this direction," he said. "Service providers are demanding from us increased flexibility, agility, scalability and efficiency in order to compete with the OTT providers that can sign up and activate customers very fast. This is happening at the same time that SDN is evolving. SDN is the disaggregation of the control plane from the data plane, and NFV is the disaggregation of software elements throughout the network. We are extending these concepts to optical, and disaggregating the functions of the optical hardware."

Whereas Fujitsu historically has built converged platforms in the form of large chassis with lots of functions such as WDM, amplifiers, transponders and switching, it's now aiming to have each of these functions housed in something more like a single rack unit form factor. The various blades can be managed by SDN controllers and orchestration systems from Fujitsu or any other vendor. They are also compatible with Fujitsu's Flashwave systems, which will help make deployments by the vendor's existing customers easier.

Want to know more about all things optical? Check out our dedicated optical content channel right here on Light Reading.

The first blade in the new family is a data center interconnect transponder with up to four 200G line-side interfaces and potential for up to eight 100G client interfaces. DCI is another area in which Fujitsu has been relatively quiet, while products from many other vendors have emerged during the past year. (See Ekinops Launches 200G DCI System, Ciena Waveserver Targets Data Center Interconnect and ADVA Ups Its DCI Game.)

Like those products, Fujitsu's is a purpose-built solution with low power consumption -- less than 1 watt per Gbit/s -- as a prime directive. Such DCI products have been built to suit the needs of cloud service providers and major content companies, typically not the types of companies that Fujitsu has engaged with, though Babbitt said the company has been making strides.

"We have brought on a lot of sales people that have worked in that space before," he said. "At the same time, our telco success gives us a lot of credibility."

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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