Overture Networks Inc. will stick to customized projects for its early software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) work, which is why you might not hear about specific products from the company until 2014.
Overture is calling its approach pragmatic. The timeframe isn't much different from other vendors' but the level of hype might be. Overture announced its obligatory SDN/NFV architecture Monday, but most of the work related to those designs will be of a behind-the-scenes nature.
Every vendor is coming out with an "architecture" for the software-driven, heavily virtualized network of the future. But Overture claims to have created its plans independently of the SDN/NFV hype of the last several months. The company calls it the Ensemble Open Services Architecture (OSA).
Roughly speaking -- because Overture hasn't cemented all the details yet -- OSA will involve Overture's metro Ethernet gear along with open-standards links to other elements such as servers and storage. The theme here is to make the central office look more like a data center.
"We see an opportunity here to take the characteristics of the cloud and bring them to the metro edge," says Mike Aquino, Overture's CEO.
The details are still in flux. Ensemble OSA is first appearing in customized jobs for particular clients. After seeing where those trials go, Overture will work on putting the technology into products.
"I don't envision us shipping the first OSA capabilities for another nine to 12 months," Aquino says.
Overture did build a prototype -- to show they're not just making this all up -- that runs a couple use cases such as bandwidth-on-demand. Customers got to see the demo late last year, and the response led Overture to fund Ensemble OSA development and start hiring a team (even as it made cuts elsewhere).
Overture isn't the kind of company that controls multiple layers of the network stack, so the company will be hunting for partners, particularly on the software side but also in areas such as optical networking and core networks.
As for why Overture is doing this -- it's true that every equipment vendor seems to have an SDN "architecture" these days, split into layers for the applications, the controllers and management software, and the equipment itself. That could partly be due to the usual marketing games, but Aquino says there's something more: Carriers are asking for this kind of direction.
One Tier 1, in particular, is demanding that its suppliers open up their products to programming interfaces, and to one another, via standard APIs. "That example comes from the most senior management via an edict," Aquino says.