Pretty much every communications network equipment vendor still breathing is looking at how its key products might fit into a world of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization, but Irish packet-optical systems vendor Intune Networks is more excited than most about its prospects should SDN actually take off.
That's because the vendor's platform development has long involved the separation of data, control and management planes, explains the company's chief marketing officer, Richard Brandon (who is only one letter away from being a goatee-bearded, stunt-loving, hot-air-balloon flying entrepreneur).
Those distributed architecture attributes were tried and tested in a European Union-funded project called MAINS (Metro Architectures Enabling Sub-Wavelengths) that was completed in 2012 and tested again in a metro-distance virtual Ethernet switch trial undertaken by the R&D team at Telefónica SA. (See this Intune press release on the Telefónica test and Intune Joins Telefónica Project.)
That architecture makes Intune's iVX8000 platform ready-made for a SDN-enabled metro network and for being managed by third-party SDN controllers, the types of which that are being developed by numerous networking and IT vendors. So, following requests from "a number of operators and IT players," says Brandon, Intune is developing an interface to add to the iVX8000 that will enable SDN controllers to "populate the forwarding fabric of the system," notes the vendor.
The end result would, according to Brandon, bring to wide area metro networks the kind of networking capabilities that are possible within a data center's local area network. "We'll be able to make a WAN look and behave like a LAN," claims the Intune man. "Within the context of extending data center networking capabilities to the metro, I think we're ahead of the game, not because we're ahead on SDN but because we're further advanced in delivering a distributed network. It's very difficult to apply SDN to the WAN unless you build the network with distributed switching," he states.
Brandon says the new interface is due to be added as part of a software upgrade to the iVX8000 that is currently targeted for September and that, while the interface will be developed to communicate with multiple types of controller, the focus will be on OpenFlow and any other standards developed by the Open Networking Foundation, of which Intune is now a member.
Brandon adds that Intune is currently talking to a number of SDN controller vendors (which he couldn't name) to arrange tests.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading