Global Carriers Try Out Transport SDN for Themselves – The First Step Towards Multi-Domain Connections on Demand

Rick Talbot
Rick Talbot

Summary Bullets:

  • In collaboration with the OIF and ONF, global carriers are testing Transport SDN for provisioning and control of multi-domain connections.
  • Transport SDN may be able to provide the multi-domain transport connection interworking which was too complex to accomplish with a traditional network management system.

On August 26, 2014, the Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) announced that they and several service providers and research institutions are testing Transport Software Defined Networking (SDN) in several global carrier lab environments, with results to be announced at three events in October. This demonstration is a landmark event in the transport and routing marketplace, exhibiting the fundamental capabilities for which these operators are considering Transport SDN.

While much of the industry has been addressing complex issues of the use of SDN for cloud networking, multi-service chaining and business application generation of services, numerous global network operators have identified use cases for SDN that are transport-oriented. These operators need to provide on-demand service connections for cloud-bursting, innovative connection-oriented enterprise services (such as bandwidth on demand) and on-demand connections for network functions virtualization (NFV). Heretofore, network systems vendors have offered network management system (NMS) solutions to simplify/speed provisioning of these connections. However, NMS is focused on fault, configuration, accounting/administration, performance and security (FCAPS) rather than being specifically focused on connection control. Worse, many network connections cross layer, vendor and administrative domains, whereas NMS solutions from separate domains have traditionally interworked very poorly.

Transport equipment vendors and the transport organizations of several network operators identified Transport SDN, which can leverage the centralized control capabilities of NMS, as a promising architecture to overcome these shortcomings of NMS solutions. These operators and vendors are active in the OIF and ONF (particularly the Optical Transport Working Group), and have worked to develop one of the key capability of Transport SDN – multi-domain operation. The August 26th announcement signals a demonstration that exhibits the fruit of this work. Vendors who participated in this demonstration can be expected to make their own announcements in the coming weeks. Transport SDN may be one of the least known variants of SDN, but vendors and operators, alike, are now trying out its capabilities. This demonstration appears to be the initial concrete step towards major operators employing Transport SDN to provision and control end-to-end transport connections in the next few years.



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