Infinera releases SDN software for its optical transport layer

Infinera's SDN controller for its optical layer equipment could enhance mobile operator use cases for shared network infrastructure.

Optical transport equipment provider Infinera has launched an open-source SDN controller, and some pre-configured SDN-enabled applications, to enable greater programmability and control of its core optical transport equipment.

The Xceed Software Suite is intended to foster greater use of SDN control in carriers’ transport networks where, according to Infinera’s Geoff Bennett, SDN progress has been slower than in data centres.

One way of overcoming that slow progress will be the ability to offer a common view of different layers in the network including down to the photonic layer (WDM layer 0) and up to IP at L3,  – even though those topologies will be different.  That multi-layer path computation capability will enable end-to-end service provisioning and control, making it easier to deploy SDN applications across subsea, long-haul and metro networks.

The software is a purpose built design based on the Open Daylight framework, which Bennett said “offered more” than alternative open-source development alliance ONOS which simply has not been around as long. It also a network abstraction layer that features northbound and southbound open APIs, including open APIs to the company’s YANG-based information model.

Infinera multi layer SDN

“Everyone will say they have open APIs,” Bennett,  Director of Solutions and Technology at Infinera, said, “but our unique claim is that we offer open information models.”

Bennett said that Infinera was able to extract greater benefits from SDN because it already developed an advanced, programmable, data plane.

Xceed also includes some ready-made apps, with two examples being an instant virtual network and the capability to provide dynamic bandwidth. Wholesale operators could take advantage of the IVN capability to offer flexible services to MNOs and MVNOs sharing physical links and infrastructure, for example. “And IVN would given them all the control they need in their own network, but with non of the responsibilities of facilities and plant and so on.”

So why has Infinera designed its own SDN controller? “Our original starting point was to be controller-agnostic,” Bennet said, “but service provider customers said they would not decide on a specific controller and would like us to develop a controller so they could jump to transport SDN .”

Bennett added that the controller is really a “value add” that offers a different spec on its optical equipment. “It’s about making our equipment work better and work better with other people’s equipment. We’re not making money by selling the SDN software, it’s about enabling the future of our hardware.”

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