ONF launches Open Disaggregated Transport Network project

The ONF has launched the Open Disaggregated Transport Network (ODTN) project, which aims to create an open source software stack that will support the disaggregation of optical transponders and open optical line systems (OLSs). Phase 1 of the project, which runs through this fall, will focus on point-to-point optical links, with subsequent phases targeting mesh network requirements such as protection, restoration, and calendaring.

The ONF has launched the Open Disaggregated Transport Network (ODTN) project, which aims to create an open source software stack that will support the disaggregation of optical transponders and open optical line systems (OLSs). Phase 1 of the project, which runs through this fall, will focus on point-to-point optical links, with subsequent phases targeting mesh network requirements such as protection, restoration, and calendaring.

According to ONF Vice President of Marketing and Ecosystem Timon Sloane and ODTN Project TST Lead Marc De Leenheer, the effort has the backing of China Unicom, Comcast, NTT Communications, Telefonica, and TIM, all of whom will conduct lab integration and evaluation of the software stack in action. Telefonica, in fact, plans to begin a lab trial this month, with NTT Communications slated to follow in the June/July timeframe. The ONF spokesmen added they expect to see field trials based on the ODTN project's work as well.

That lab trials can begin so quickly is a result of the fact that creation of the software stack has already begun and the effort will leverage work completed within other projects. For example, the ODTN effort will leverage OpenConfig as a southbound interface between ONOS and the optical link and the Transport-API (TAPI) as a northbound interface. Sloane and De Leenheer added that the project will benefit from progress within the Telecom Infra Project's (TIP's) Open Optical & Packet Transport group on network planning tools and APIs. The ONF expects that the ODTN software stack will work well with TIP-created hardware, such as the Voyager optical transport and switch platform (see "Telecom Infra Project intros Voyager white box open packet DWDM transponder"). ODTN also will leverage the OpenROADM MSA's work to define optical system interoperability specifications; it may also look at OpenROADM data models if ODTN project members decide to tackle data plane interoperability.

Sloane and De Leenheer stressed that ODTN isn't a standards effort. However, the ONF plans to create a disaggregated optical transport reference model. In practice, the ODTN effort will assume that the transponders at each end of an optical transmission will come from a single vendor. However, multiple transponder pairs from different vendors will be free to share the same OLS infrastructure, the ODTN model will ensure.

A host of optical technology vendors have signed up to support the effort and participate in the trials. NEC, Nokia, Oplink, and ZTE will contribute to the software platform and will be "building full solutions," in the words of an ONF press release. ADVA Optical Networking, Ciena, Coriant, CoAdna (which is in the process of being purchased by II-VI), Infinera, and Lumentum will offer hardware and perhaps other resources for the trials. Spain's Catalan Telecommunications Technology Centre (CTTC) also will support the trials.

Disaggregation of transponders from the OLS enables more rapid innovation of the transponders, frees network operators to mix and match technology from multiple suppliers and exercise greater control over their infrastructures, and lessens the chances of vendor lock-in, the ONF sources pointed out. Vendors have already begun to offer technology to support such architectures while participating in related open network efforts within industry forums. For example, ODTN contributors ADVA, Ciena, Coriant, Infinera, Lumentum, NEC, and Nokia are all members of TIP, while Ciena, Coriant, Infinera, and Nokia are members of the OpenROADM MSA.

Optical systems and software suppliers wouldn't be moving in this direction, of course, if their network operator customers hadn't made clear their interest in such openness and disaggregation. "Disaggregation is producing very effective results in many areas of networking, including the areas of Ethernet, RAN, and PON broadband access. By disaggregating optical transport networks, we expect to yield similar benefits such as the ability to build more cost-effective networks while giving us greater ability to innovate rapidly," said Dr. Xiongyan Tang, CTO, Network Technology Research, China Unicom, via the ONF release. "We believe that by applying open source to help build a platform out of the disaggregated optical components, we can help move the industry forward rapidly and enable accelerated innovation in the optical domain."

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