Transport SDN – Still the Low-Hanging Fruit

Rick Talbot
Rick Talbot

Summary Bullets:

  • Transport SDN promises much shorter-term rewards than broader high-profile efforts.
  • Progress towards transport SDN can be seen in the demand for agile transport services, standards work and deployments this year.

Over the past year, network systems vendors have touted high-profile strategies to transform the service provider business model through extending software-defined networking (SDN) beyond the data center to support network functions virtualization (NFV) throughout the wide area network (WAN). The Tier 1 service providers appear to be embracing these same strategies as they seek to leverage virtual network functions (VNFs) to create new differentiated services. However, these broad efforts can be extremely complex, will likely require fundamental changes in the service provider business operations and appear to rely on a seemingly endless set of standards to avoid vendor lock-in. No wonder service provider SDN and NFV seem to be so far off.

However, another SDN trend has been taking place at the same time, one that promises much shorter-term rewards. It appears the transport SDN is still SDN’s low-hanging fruit and is of immediate interest to service providers. This progress towards transport SDN can be measured in three ways. Continue reading “Transport SDN – Still the Low-Hanging Fruit”

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. Continue reading “Global Carriers Try Out Transport SDN for Themselves – The First Step Towards Multi-Domain Connections on Demand”

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. Continue reading “Video: Another Use Case for Transport SDN”

Competitive Implications of Optical Market Shares: Location, Location, Location

Rick Talbot
Rick Talbot

The globalization of the telecommunications industry is a given.  Original national network operators such as AT&T, BT, Deutsche Telekom, NTT, Orange, Tata, Telefonica and Verizon are now global network providers.  Network systems vendors, in turn, also come from all regions, such as Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson from Europe, Ciena and Cisco from North America, Huawei and ZTE from China, and NEC and Fujitsu from Japan.

This globalization permeates the individual segments of the telecommunications industry, including optical networking, where market share is assigned by global share.  A recent report by a quantitative analyst firm found that Huawei had the highest share of the optical network hardware market, followed by Alcatel-Lucent, Ciena, ZTE and Fujitsu.  These results absolutely indicate the scale at which these companies operate; leading firms can leverage larger sales to lower their unit costs via economies of scale.  The results could also imply that, for most optical networking opportunities, Huawei would be the most potent competitor.  However, this implication would be false; the optical networking market is highly segmented based on geographic regions.  For instance:

  • Fujitsu’s sales are overwhelmingly in North America;
  • Ciena does not even attempt to sell in China;
  • The winners of the upcoming massive 100G DWDM build-out by China Mobile are Huawei, ZTE, FiberHome and Alcatel Shanghai Bell, all Chinese firms; and
  • Huawei and ZTE are effectively excluded from the North American Tier 1 operator market.

Continue reading “Competitive Implications of Optical Market Shares: Location, Location, Location”

SDN/NFV Killer App: New Generation Demands Continuous Service Enhancement

Rick Talbot
Rick Talbot

Summary Bullets:

  • A new generation of end users will demand continuously enhanced services.
  • SDN/NFV will be required to provide the flexibility to keep up with these changes.

Industry pundits have been debating the value of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) for the past year. One line of questions asks whether their value to network operators rests in an ability to cut capital costs, reduce operational expenses or stimulate revenues. Since network operators are relatively conservative, they generally base their decisions on how sure they can be of the savings or revenue figures, with the descending order of confidence being:

1. Capital costs (reliable, as an upfront figure);
2. Operational expense (somewhat controllable, but mostly future); then
3. Revenue (practically uncontrollable in an operator’s eyes).

It was surprising, then, that two operators at last month’s TM Forum Digital Disruption 2013 conference posited that potential revenues, not cost savings, would drive SDN/NFV deployment. Continue reading “SDN/NFV Killer App: New Generation Demands Continuous Service Enhancement”