Accelerating SDN into the Carrier Space

June 17, 2015

Scott Silverstein, Principal Product Marketing Manager
Scott Silverstein, Principal Product Marketing Manager

By Scott Silverstein, Principal Product Marketing Manager

I recently attended the Light Reading event, “Accelerating SDN in the Carrier WAN” hosted in Denver, Colorado on May 12th. The event was well attended – over 150 people with a great mix of end users and suppliers. Both the Telco and MSO space were represented. Lots of jargon, new three-letter-acronyms, new standards and a lot of great, if not contentious, dialogue.

The question being asked by many of these carriers was an interesting one: if carriers were to build their own SDN network today, how should they pursue it? Presenters spoke at length on the possibility of virtualizing network functions in the Cloud, a concept known as NFV (Network Function Virtualization), rather than utilizing dedicated hardware appliances. Many of the panelists discussed OpenFlow, OpenDalylight, NetConf & Yang and the use of an SDN ‘Orchestrator’, a central point of contact in the network where all of this communication happens.

From the arguments I heard, the most interesting was about where and how SDN would play across the different layers of the network. The concept of breaking up the network into a Cloud Services Layer (Layer C) and a Transport Layer (Layer T) started to sink in. ‘What if’ the most expensive portion of my network (Layer 3-7 – routers, switches, firewalls) all moved into the Cloud? What if central offices and cable head ends turned into mini data centers? And what if, the “transport” layer could be based on highly scalable optics and deliver on-demand transport services to the Cloud Services Layer to support the delivery of the higher layer services? The “glue” between these two layers would be SDN, enabling Layer C to request bandwidth from Layer T. The concept has potential to simplify networks and create a new network paradigm that dramatically lowers costs and increases network agility, something that representatives from the carriers in the room seemed excited about. In fact, heads in the room started to nod when Mike Capuano, Vice President of Marketing at Infinera, discussed the emergence of this new model and Layer T and Layer C during the panel discussion entitled “The Path to Transport SDN and IP + Optical Integration.”

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After a full day of intense discussions, I was able to learn that NFV, SDN and a new Layer C and Layer T network model have some pretty significant promise for carriers, enabling them to maximize their network resources while delivering new services faster and with the quality we expect and demand. And for the carriers’ customers, the promise is to be able to get the services they need, on demand, at a lower cost and more easily than ever before.

Learn more about Infinera’s Transport SDN:

Technology Brief: Pacnet Extends NaaS to the Optical Layer

White Paper: An SDN Architecture for Transport Networks

Brochure: Introducing the Infinera Open Transport Switch


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