DT Unveils New Network Vision

German giant Deutsche Telekom has taken the cloud as its inspiration for its simplified, OpenFlow-friendly TeraStream Architecture

March 13, 2012

3 Min Read
DT Unveils New Network Vision

LONDON -- Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) today unveiled a new vision of how it intends to cast off the shackles of cumbersome traditional networking operations and adopt a new model -- the TeraStream Architecture -- that takes its inspiration from the cloud.

Speaking on Tuesday at the Cloud-Net Summit in London, Axel Clauberg, DT's vice president of IP Architecture and Design, said that greater simplicity was needed in telecom operator networks. "We are very good at exploring new opportunities but have problems in bringing new ideas to market due to the complexity of our networks."

He added: "We are still running many old technologies" such as ATM, frame relay, and so on, "while having to add new ones too, such as IPv6. We have to simplify."

Clauberg said the evolution of cloud services has provided the inspiration for DT's new network template. "Cloud services can help us redesign our services delivery architecture, and we have designed a new, simplified model called the TeraStream Architecture," a native IP network designed around the cloud model of flexible asset control.

The new architecture has a very simple topology with the minimal number of network elements, comprising an optical ring backbone interspersed with just two types of routers that link to data centers and access networks. The architecture would offer end-to-end IP connections and be designed as a native IPv6 network.

The applications and tools needed to actually run the network and deliver services would largely be housed in the data centers: "We would use the cloud services paradigm for our service delivery," said Clauberg.

A big issue for DT to sort out is its Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) set-up, particularly its OSS capabilities. "There are a lot of legacy issues with OSS -- it's often the major cause of delays in bringing new services to market," noted Clauberg, adding that DT is planning to build a "new real-time OSS to overcome" these issues.

The OSS layer would be the glue between the network and the service capabilities housed in the data center, leading DT towards a more software-defined networking (SDN) model whereby the network can become a programmable entity that can be managed centrally. To this end, Clauberg sees a role for the OpenFlow SDN protocol that has stirred quite a bit of controversy in the industry in the past year. (See It's Open Season for OpenFlow, OpenFlow Slices Up the Network, OpenFlow's 'Centralized' Problem and Cisco Will Support OpenFlow.)

However, he doesn't envisage SDN as an end-to-end networking possibility. Instead he sees a role for OpenFlow in the data center and in the access network but not in the core, where the public Internet's BGP (border gateway protocol) "won't disappear," making SDN in the core a theoretical possibility but not something the DT man believes is workable.

Where SDN does work, though, DT is pushing ahead to create more manageable and flexible networking environments, and Clauberg said that OpenFlow would be used in a customer trial before the end of 2012.

Whatever the protocol or the networking philosophy, Clauberg knows that DT needs to move towards its TeraStream Architecture vision without delay. "To be profitable we need to simplify and the cloud model can help us achieve this." He believes the new model can deliver cost, service and innovation leadership for DT and enable it to achieve real and full fixed and mobile network integration.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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