OIF touts optical SDN role

The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) believes it can take a lead role in helping to define the application of software-defined networking (SDN) principles to transport networks. Based on work highlighted at an analyst event in Boston July 28, the industry group appears to be well on its way, with activities targeting three areas: identifying carrier requirements, developing Implementation Agreements, and demonstrating transport SDN technology status.

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The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) believes it can take a lead role in helping to define the application of software-defined networking (SDN) principles to transport networks. Based on work highlighted at an analyst event in Boston July 28, the industry group appears to be well on its way.

As described by OIF President Vishnu Shukla of Verizon, the OIF sees three significant areas where it can contribute to the development of transport SDN, including the application of SDN to the optical layer. The first of these is requirements definition. The OIF's Carrier Working Group produced a requirements document, "OIF Carrier WG Requirements on Transport Networks in SDN Architectures," last September. The document, available from the OIF website, derived from input from carriers worldwide. It tackles such topics as SDN orchestrator functional requirements, the work required within current control plane and management plane technologies, and what remains to be done within data planes to enable transport SDN. In addition to guiding OIF’s other work on SDN, the document has been distributed to standards development organizations, Shukla said.

The OIF also is working on several aspects of the necessary northbound interfaces in a transport SDN environment, Shukla said. The group launched an effort to help enable Virtual Network Services (VNS) – or "network slicing" as it is sometimes known – early this year (see "OIF advances work on SDN and 100G/400G"). Shukla said the OIF expects several outcomes from this effort:

  • Implementation Agreements that specify the attributes and characteristics of programmable Virtual Transport Network Services. These specifications will be protocol and technology agnostic, he said.
  • VNS invocation/management/teardown procedure specifications.
  • extensions to existing APIs, if needed.

The third area of OIF involvement is technology demonstration, with an eye toward illustrating the current status of transport SDN technology and exploring use cases and what operational tools may be needed. The demonstrations include workouts for some of the interface specifications the OIF has under development.

The group has announced such a demonstration in partnership with the Open Networking Foundation (ONF; see "Transport SDN subject of OIF, ONF demo"). The demonstration will explore "cloud bursting" over optical networks as a use case. The demonstration will seek to illustrate the accommodation of cloud-derived traffic peaks between data centers via Optical Transport Network (OTN) connections created via a central interface. Ethernet service provision over OTN as the data plane also will be part of the demonstration. The demonstration will feature some of the work the ONF has done on the extensions to OpenFlow necessary for transport SDN in an optical environment, and potentially some of the OIF’s work on northbound interfaces. Shukla described the intent as a "prototype demonstration" aimed at gathering feedback to direct ongoing activities within both the ONF and OIF.

Participants in the demo have not yet been announced. However, Shukla indicated he expects five or six carriers and a like number of technology vendors to take part.

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