SDN not playing key role in carriers' optical decisions says Infonetics

Despite the buzz around software-defined networking (SDN), most carriers are not ready to put the technology to work in their optical networks. That’s the conclusion of a Packet-Optical, MPLS, and Control Plane Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey, conducted by Infonetics Research.

Despite the buzz around software-defined networking (SDN), most carriers are not ready to put the technology to work in their optical networks. That’s the conclusion of a "Packet-Optical, MPLS, and Control Plane Strategies: Global Service Provider Survey," conducted by Infonetics Research.

In conducting the survey, Infonetics interviewed 21 incumbent, competitive, independent wireless, and cable operators that have deployed packet-optical transport systems (P-OTS) or plan to do so by the end of 2015. The resulting 22-page study, now available from the market research firm, looks at why service providers deploy packet-optical equipment, how they make the tradeoff between using converged optical and Ethernet equipment versus standalone routers, and what network penetration looks like. It also explores carrier plans for alien wavelengths and using SDN in optical networks.

Infonetics recently asserted that uncertainty about SDN strategies was slowing carrier router and switch purchases (see “SDN holds up carrier router and switch spending says Infonetics”). This latest survey indicates that while SDN is in the cards for most carriers, it hasn’t yet colored optical transport equipment purchase decisions.

“No topic has generated more discussion in the past 12 months than software-defined networking (SDN), though most carriers have been publicly silent on their plans for SDN in the transport network. Our latest packet-optical study found that over three-quarters of service providers surveyed plan to deploy transport SDN, but only a third say vendors’ SDN strategies play a critical role in their equipment and vendor decisions today,” said Andrew Schmitt, principal analyst for optical at Infonetics Research.

The study also found that opinions on exactly what constitutes a packet-optical transport system (P-OTS) vary widely in the industry. However you define it, 84% of respondents said they have deployed or will deploy P-OTS by the end of 2015. The survey indicates P-OTS deployment drivers include reducing complexity in the network and supporting services such as private line Ethernet and broadband aggregation.

Meanwhile, slightly more than half of respondents said they will use alien wavelengths to provide spectrum leasing and dark fiber services, not IP over DWDM (IPoDWDM), according to the survey.

When asked to estimate the percentage of traffic transiting their network that is packet switched by conventional routers versus packet-optical systems, respondents indicate that optical equipment will play a much larger role in packet switching and aggregation by 2016, but it will still be secondary to the role routers play.

For more information on packet-optical systems and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer’s Guide.

Want to learn more about SDN innovation? Attend the Lightwave Optical Innovation Summit
The Lightwave Optical Innovation Summit will feature panels and presentations that will illuminate where optical innovation is required in carrier and enterprise/data center networks, what it should look like, and when it might appear. A wide range of experts from the user, technology development, academic, and analyst communities will offer their views on innovation in a variety of areas, including SDN. Find out more about the Summit, which will be held in Austin, TX, July 14-16, at the Lightwave Optical Innovation Summit website.

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