Telefónica has launched a series of pilot programs to implement SDN across its network and is working with a number of vendors, including Huawei, Infinera, Cisco Systems, and Juniper, to achieve a more flexible, automatic networking provisioning system.
"The business benefit is flexibility. Without this orchestration, network planning and execution is very slow, and because of it we typically over-provision the network," Juan Pedro Fernandez-Palacios Gimenez, coordinator of the core network evolution group at Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), told Light Reading.
"The business case is: Let's have a more flexible and intelligent network than we have nowadays, to optimize the resources we have," he added.
As part of its UNICA project, Telefónica has already completed trials involving data center interconnections using an Application Based Network Operations (ABNO) controller, which, as proposed by the IETF, is based on path computation element (PCE) capabilities. (See Telefónica Unveils Aggressive NFV Plans and Telefónica, Infinera Team on SDN-Enabled NaaS .)
A mature ABNO solution is in development and is due in 2015 at the earliest.
This year, Telefónica is working on interoperability among multiple vendors' products.
The plan over the long term is to move to centralized SDN functions and a distributed control plane for network provisioning. SDN controllers and associated applications would handle orchestration and centralized planning, while the control plane handles execution, Fernandez-Palacios said.
Telefónica is standardizing on the ABNO framework, defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) , to allow the company to combine components from multiple vendors in a modular SDN architecture, Fernandez-Palacios said.
ABNO provides connectivity between virtual nodes, connecting end-users with different virtual nodes in different data centers.
"Different modules can be provided by different vendors," he said. Telefónica will use OpenFlow within domains, but plans to connect multiple domains using MPLS. Telefónica doesn't see using end-to-end OpenFlow in the short term, but that might change over time as the SDN protocol matures, said the Telefónica man.
Major telcos have been slow to implement SDN because of the major impact the separation of the control and data planes will have on network operations, management, and security. But they're getting there: Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) is looking to SDN as part of its transition to a single IP network; AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is launching a major SDN push; and NTT Group (NYSE: NTT) is already well down the SDN road. (See AT&T Reveals Audacious SDN Plans, NTT Taps SDN to Enhance Cloud Flexibility, Deutsche Telekom Works Toward One Network, and Deutsche Telekom: A Software-Defined Operator).
Fernandez-Palacio's colleague, Diego Lopez, senior technology expert at Telefónica I+D (the research division), will be one of the featured keynote speakers at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE), which will take place on June 17 and 18 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. The event combines the educational power of interactive conference sessions devised and hosted by Heavy Reading's experienced industry analysts with multi-vendor interoperability and proof-of-concept networking and application showcases. For more on the event, the topics, and the stellar service provider speaker lineup, see Telecommunication Luminaries to Discuss the Hottest Industry Trends at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in June.