The testing of prototype SDN gear in carrier labs shows that interoperable SDN is approaching commercialization, according to one official involved.
That pre-standard gear of multiple vendors was able to establish and tear down network connections in real-world applications, in testing done in multiple carrier labs in North America, Europe and China. (See OIF, ONF List Vendors in Transport SDN Demo and OIF/ONF Efforts Could Speed Transport SDN.)
The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) and Open Networking Foundation have been conducting joint global testing in a number of carrier labs to use their combined expertise to identify where software-defined networking is today and what needs to be done to bring it to commercial deployment. The initial readout of the test results was done last Friday at the Waltham Labs of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), one of the carriers engaged in the testing process.
Those readouts show that SDN "is getting real and is getting ready to be commercialized," says Dave Brown, director of optical products marketing for Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and VP-Marketing and board member for OIF. "We are still in the early stages, but these are exciting and positive results and very encouraging.
The testing results are also being shared this week at the SDN event in Dusseldorf, Germany, and later this month at an invite-only meeting at China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA)'s lab in Beijing. The results are included in a white paper that can be found here.
The application tested was cloudbursting, or increasing the bandwidth between data centers to support cloud services, since that is a common business case for SDN, Brown notes.
"The prototypes that were shown were pretty stable," he says. "And we were able to do what we were trying to do and identify any issue or gaps that need to be addressed by groups like the OIF or ONF" or by other standards bodies. About 18 individual issues were identified, "but none of them were show stoppers," he says, and all now can be addressed by the appropriate group.
Among the things tested were OpenFlow extensions for the southbound interfaces between network elements and controllers, since being able to mix and match controller and network element vendors is a key aspect of SDN interoperability. The tests also covered a prototype northbound interface between applications and controller for service requests and responses, and a prototype northbound interface for exchanging topology requests and responses.
The next steps would be for the two groups to continue to work on their part of this process and produce implementation agreements that can be presented to standards bodies, including potentially the International Telecommunication Union, Standardization Sector (ITU-T) , the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV ISG, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) .
For the OIF, the work will focus on the northbound interfaces for service requests and topology APIs, while Brown expects the ONF will focus on the OpenFlow extensions.
Being able to conduct the testing in carrier labs -- China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and Telus Corp. (NYSE: TU; Toronto: T) are also involved -- allowed the vendors engaged to see their equipment interoperate with that of other vendors, which was key aspect of this set of tests.
"It gives vendors an opportunity to get some actual real experience -- showing how they can interwork with other vendors' equipment, not just their own network elements and controllers," Brown says. "This will let the vendors further their product development."
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading