ADVA extends OpenFlow to optical layer

ADVA Optical Networking says that it has created a way to extend the capabilities of OpenFlow to control wavelength-switched optical networks. The advance potentially links optical communication with the growing interest in software-defined networks, of which OpenFlow is an enabler.

ADVA Optical Networking (FSE: ADV) says that it has created a way to extend the capabilities of OpenFlow to control wavelength-switched optical networks. The advance potentially links optical communication with the growing interest in software-defined networks, of which OpenFlow is an enabler.

Software-defined networks, in which a decoupling of the control plane and data plane is meant to improve application innovation, has become a hot topic in IT and other data network circles. OpenFlow is an open standards based approach to enable this decoupling (see more at http://www.openflow.org/wp/learnmore/).

According to Jorg-Peter Elbers, vice president, research and development advanced technology at ADVA Optical Networking, OpenFlow deployments have focused on packet switching in the electronic domain, with implementations commonly found in Ethernet switches and routers. ADVA, in collaboration with the University of Essex as part of the EU-funded OpenFlow in Europe – Linking Infrastructure and Applications (OFELIA) project, has opened the door to the use of OpenFlow to control wavelength switching as well. (The fact that ADVA has experience with GMPLS, which also separates the control and data planes, gave the company a leg up on this effort, Elbers says.) The benefit, says Elbers, is that network managers would be able to manage the packet and optical layers of their networks under the same software-defined network umbrella. The idea holds particular appeal to managers of research and education networks as well as data center networks, Elbers says.

“SDN [software-defined networking] presents a tremendous opportunity for customers to streamline and automate network infrastructure and operations,” commented Christoph Glingener, CTO at ADVA Optical Networking, in the company’s announcement of its work within OFELIA. “While server and storage virtualization have been widely adopted, network virtualization is still in its infancy. SDN closes this gap by offering programmable network control, better scalability, and faster adaption to virtual machine mobility. We have proven that SDN can seamlessly extend into the optical domain and enables network virtualization across multiple layers. The OpenFlow approach extends our existing SDN solution employing our RAYcontrol control plane.”

Elbers would not discuss ADVA’s commercialization plans for this capability, saying that the focus first is on demonstrating the technology. To this end, OFELIA members plan to show off its work this week at the European Future Internet Assembly in Aalborn, Denmark. The University of Essex also has established an SDN facility as part of OFELIA that comprises packet switches and application servers linked via fiber-optic cable. External users can directly access the facility via GÉANT, the pan-European R&E backbone. These users can then run, control, and monitor their own SDN applications via Web-based tools and services.

“It has been exciting developing this OpenFlow solution with the team at ADVA Optical Networking,” said Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, head of the High Performance Networks Group, University of Essex, via the same announcement. “Together we have built an SDN testbed with packet and wavelength switches under a common OpenFlow control. This is something that has never been done before. Researchers can now obtain slices of network infrastructure to program their own virtual multi-layer networks. They can use optical switching alongside packet switching to adapt bandwidth, latency, and power consumption to their application needs.”

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