Infinera has made a trio of announcements around multi-layer transport network control and flexibility that just might help it gain a reputation as a table-setter for carrier-grade software-defined networking (SDN).
Ahead of OFC 2014, the company has unveiled a new flexible-grid, colorless/directionless/contentionless ROADM linecard; a GMPLS-based unified control plane for spectrum-switched optical networking (SSON); and the third-generation of Infinera's 500 Gbit/s flexible-grid, super-channel capability -- all with the intent of bring greater automation and flexibility to multi-layer digital and optical transport networks. (See Infinera Automates Multi-layer Transport Networks.)
According to Mark Showalter, senior director of marketing at Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN), automating the lowers layers of the network is a fundamentally important step in helping carriers develop, and fully leverage, SDN architectures.
"What we're doing completely aligns with what carriers are doing with SDN," he says. "You're not going to get to carrier SDN until you have an automated optical transport layer. You need to automate Layers 0-3 to get to there."
Showalter further notes that "to automate the optical layer, you need a flexible ROADM that can respond to software controls, and a unified control plane that becomes the mediator between our FlexROADM and the software-defined network."
The SSON control plane -- based on Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) specifications that are en route to becoming a standard -- enables the switching of flexible-grid super-channels at the optical layer, as well as service provisioning through the digital OTN switching framework. The new products and capabilities will be deliverable to Infinera DTN-X customers in September.
Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), which just announced an SDN-based network-as-a-service innovation with Infinera, also endorsed this move via a statement in Infinera's press release, though it is not clear if Telefónica is the initial deployer. (See Telefónica, Infinera Team on SDN-Enabled NaaS .)
Infinera is doing its part here to soothe the concerns of carrier executives, such as Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) director of Optical Transport Networks Architecture & Design Glenn Wellbrock, who have wondered if the optical layer gets left behind as the rest of the network shifts to SDN, and have been awaiting flexible ROADMs as part of the potential solution. (See Optical SDN Could Require Vendor-Specific Help and Infinera: SDN Can Master Optical Layer.)
Unfortunately for Infinera, though, its multi-layer developments weren't enough to get its foot in the door at Verizon during the Tier 1 carrier's recent optical transport equipment selection process. (See Analyst: Infinera Loses VZ Deal to AlcaLu.)
The vendor, though, seems to be finding plenty of traction elsewhere. (See Infinera: We're Fine, Thanks…)
— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading
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