SDN architectures

Optical SDN Gets a Test Run

Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) and ESnet are announcing Thursday that they've completed a proof-of-concept demo of the Open Transport Switch (OTS), bringing the optical layer one step closer to fully joining the software-defined networking (SDN) craze.

Building an OTS boils down to adding two things to an optical transport box: a virtual switch and the software hooks to receive commands from OpenFlow or some similar protocol. Infinera outfitted its gear accordingly, and ESnet provided a home-built SDN controller to talk to it.

The tests included explicit and implicit provisioning. The former is when the SDN controller commands every node in the network. In the implicit case, the controller talked just to the endpoints, which then used GMPLS to set up a connection through the network.

Among the applications tested out was bandwidth-on-demand combined with a kind of virtualization: The network was commanded to turn up a 40Gbit/s service by using separate 10Gbit/s connections.

Why this matters
Considering the OTS is still in the idea phase at the ONF, this trial shows how quickly some SDN ideas are moving and how enthusiastic optical vendors are becoming about the technology.

ESnet has two primary interests in SDN: the ability to handle very large data flows, and, because it's a research network with collaborators all over the world, the ability to control networks across multiple domains. The OTS has some of that multidomain promise, as it's a multivendor proposal intended as a step toward controlling multivendor networks.

The OTS used in the tests is nowhere near commercial viability, both sides tell Light Reading. The software doesn't have operational niceties such as alarms or debugging tools, for instance.

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— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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