Video: Another Use Case for Transport SDN

Rick Talbot

Rick Talbot

Sometimes, concepts from two supposedly unrelated documents intersect, yielding a third. On May 21st, ADVA Optical Networking issued a press release describing a demonstration it conducted in collaboration with HEAnet, i2CAT and Eurotek showcasing a 4K video services network. The network used an OpenDaylight-based software-defined networking (SDN) controller and ADVA’s FSP 3000 colorless and directionless ROADMs. This network exhibited video network as a service (VNaaS), but would the video application be a distinct use case (versus all large-scale data transfers)?

Then, we note a ‘Solutions’ page on the Net Insight web site which proposes to replace satellite downlinks from content providers to the CATV operator/MSO headends (what it called ‘fronthaul content acquisition’) with a terrestrial solution (a dedicated IP network utilizing Net Insight’s Nimbra multimedia switch routers). The configuration is depicted below.

nmblog-Rick-MSR-Cable-example-5-2014
MSO using wired network for fronthaul content acquisition
(From Net Insight web site)

The terrestrial solution can provide higher quality than satellite-based fronthaul content acquisition (important for MSOs, which are trying to hold off the OTT competitors). The cost per bit of optical transport, which underlies the terrestrial solution, has precipitously decreased over the years, and the multimedia switch routers provide flexibility for individual video connections. However, as premium video content evolves to 4K, the required capacity will significantly increase, likely leading the MSOs to seek centralized control for the large video flows in order to better manage transport quality. Transport SDN, as demonstrated by ADVA, should prove an ideal method of controlling these video connections.

The new concept is that the national distribution of the emerging high-capacity versions of video should be a compelling use case for Transport SDN. Previous SDN use cases had included content distribution, but that content was viewed as just another form of data (and that between data centers), and the network operators were viewed as wholesale bandwidth providers transporting OTT content. This new use case is targeted squarely at the MSOs, which require the highest quality of video for distribution over their local networks in order to compete with fixed line telcos and OTT providers.

Perhaps the industry should seek additional commercial use cases for Transport SDN, since it may aid more commercial applications than we realized.

About Rick Talbot
As Principal Analyst, Optical Infrastructure, Rick primarily focuses on tracking, analyzing and reporting on developments that impact the metro, and long-haul optical infrastructure market. His areas of coverage include the companies, technologies and strategies related to the market for WDM-based access, switching, optical add/drop and PON products.

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