Infinera software suite aims to bring SDN services to optical layer

31 Aug 2016

Infinera has announced a new SDN software suite that aims to bring the benefits of software-defined networking to the optical transport layer – complete with built-in service apps that operators can use to generate new revenues.

According to Infinera, the new “Xceed” software suite includes a purpose-built multi-layer SDN platform – built on the OpenDaylight open source SDN controller – that incorporates Infinera-developed microservices, such as the Xceed Multi-layer Path Computation Element (PCE) and a network abstraction layer incorporating Infinera’s Open Transport Switch (OTS) software. Infinera customers can use open APIs to integrate the Xceed platform into their optical transport networks.

However, the real attraction may be the suite’s applications: Xceed Dynamic Bandwidth (which provides on-demand provisioning for OTNs, including ODUFlex and Metro Ethernet Forum-compliant Ethernet services) and Layer 1 Instant Virtual Network (which enables service providers to define multiple virtual transport network topologies on a shared physical network infrastructure).

Andrew Bond-Webster, Infinera’s Asia-Pacific VP, says that service providers faced with growing bandwidth demand, dropping prices and fierce competition want new service capabilities to differentiate themselves in the market – and they want to be able to do that all the way down to the optical transport layer.

“Telstra’s PEN gives you an idea of the kinds of services SDN can enable – bandwidth on demand to the location you need when you need it for as long as you need it, short-term or long term,” he said. “The challenge with doing that in the transport world is that there hasn’t been that ability to drill down to the lowest levels of the network. Xceed changes that – it enables them to do just that.”

The dynamic bandwidth app lets service providers manage virtual networks (in real time or on a planned basis) and offer programmable, multi-domain connectivity and bandwidth on demand at Layer 1 and Layer 2, end-to-end across metro and core networks. Operators can also customize it in terms of things like policy and constraint-based service routing.

The instant virtual network (IVN) app lets service providers create layered virtual transport networks for customers on the same physical network. Service provider customers get full multi-layer visibility, monitoring and control of a network slice, while each IVN has its own multi-layer PCE container instance.

For the service providers, that means differentiated service offering that can be tailored to individual customers and delivered more quickly.

“For example, a wholesale customer could use an IVN for data center interconnection, while an enterprise could use its own IVN to overlay a partial mesh MPLS VPN, and a telco could use an IVN to establish transport policies and SLA assurance for Ethernet services – all on the same optical transport layer,” Bond-Webster said.

This opens up new business models for operators in terms of how they sell transport capacity, he added. “They’ll have the flexibility to go to market with new propositions and the ability to deploy them faster.”

In any case, Bond-Webster says, it’s the revenue-generating capabilities that are the real selling point of SDN for operators now, and what will really kick SDN adoption into gear in the telecoms space.

“The things service providers are really looking for with SDN – it's not the elegant network and cost efficiencies you get, but how to defend existing revenues and grow new business. That’s what they want,” he said.

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