Consortium demos user-controlled on-demand optical provisioning via network virtualization

FEBRUARY 22, 2007 -- A consortium of researchers say they have proved that a user, without prior knowledge of a network or an understanding of how to configure it, could create their own private optical network on demand, via a web page and Web services interface. The consortium's members also demonstrated the ability to automatically detect and re-route large data flows between countries along more optimal paths to improve customer service and provide greater network efficiency.

This series of announcements were made by HEAnet, Ireland's National Research and Education Network (NREN); Trinity College Dublin's Centre for Telecommunications Value Chain Research (CTVR); Barcelona's i2CAT, a non-profit organization that promotes research and innovation for advanced Internet technology; and Glimmerglass (search for Glimmerglass), a developer of optical switching platforms.

Using User Controlled LightPath (UCLP) software to control two Glimmerglass optical switches via a Web interface, a HEAnet user created a Gigabit Ethernet circuit from the i2CAT facility in Barcelona to Trinity College in Dublin, using a link from G�ANT over a Layer 2 MPLS virtual leased-line network. The group says this demonstrated an agile optical Internet in which users and communities can define and determine network connections and desired bandwidth on demand as needed.

"This is the first successful demonstration of using optical switches and UCLPv1.5 software," said Eoin Kenny, project manager, HEAnet. "It's important because, previous to this, UCLPv1.5 software had only been used with traditional SDH/SONET transmission or Ethernet equipment. This demonstration enabled a user to automatically request an optical link as part of complete end to end Gigabit Ethernet circuit from i2CAT in Barcelona to CTVR in Dublin."

In addition to i2CAT developing UCLPv1.5 software to control Glimmerglass all optical switches, CTVR was able to demonstrate how its IP flow software was able to create on demand pure optical links using UCLP's Web services and the Glimmerglass switches based on detecting IP flows, which were then switched to alternative optical paths.

This technique is often referred to as optical IP switching (OIS). OIS is a technique developed at CTVR that can be embedded in IP routers. It analyzes and correlates IP packets, and if IP flows appear with specific characteristics the router establishes an optical cut-through path between its upstream and downstream neighbors, requesting the upstream node to place all the packets belonging to the flow into the new path. The newly generated trail bypasses the IP layer of the router, as the packets transparently flow from the upstream to the downstream neighbor.

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