Thursday, November 29, 2012

ESnet and Infinera Test SDN Open Transport

Infinera and the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) demonstrated a prototype Software Defined Network (SDN) Open Transport Switch (OTS) capable of dynamically controlling bandwidth services at the optical layer via an extensions to the OpenFlow protocol. The idea is to provide a lightweight virtual transport switch on optical transport systems with an interface to an SDN Controller.

The proof-of-concept demonstration, which used ESnet's Long Island Metropolitan Area Network (LIMAN) control plane test bed, tested a prototype of the OTS running on the Infinera DTN platform, allowing ESnet’s optical transport network to be configured by an SDN controller via the OpenFlow protocol. ESnet enhanced its SDN controller and demonstrated on-demand bandwidth Ethernet services including bandwidth elasticity for data-intensive science experiments at Brookhaven National Laboratory on their LIMAN network, spanning from Manhattan, NY, to Upton, NY.

The services were provisioned by a high-capacity bandwidth-on-demand application utilizing the SDN controller in three different transport network abstractions, including one based on Infinera’s standards-based GMPLS control plane, showcasing the potential to deploy Transport SDN in networks with existing control planes in production. Brookhaven National Lab’s networking team and researchers used this SDN platform to experiment with ultra-high speed data transfer applications being developed for next-generation networks using RDMA over Ethernet protocols.

ESnet Chief Technologist Inder Monga said big data is a reality for science conducted at the national labs and at research universities across the country.  While some of the traffic flows are persistent and can use nailed up optical circuits efficiently, the sharing of big data sets generates bursty traffic. By enabling multi-layer coordination and control, including converged wavelength, OTN and packet transport technologies, ESnet is looking to improve the utilization and efficiency, while simplifying and automating operations.

“The emerging era of data-intensive science demands the highest level of performance from the network. The ability for the network to scale and handle large data flows efficiently across a multi-layer network is an essential capability,” said ESnet Chief Technologist Inder Monga. “The type of bandwidth flexibility, automation and resource efficiency demonstrated in this test are critical to supporting the large-scale data transfer requirements of data-driven science research.”

Infinera described the proof-of-concept demonstration as a first step in realizing the potential of Transport SDN at the optical transport layer.  The company's Bandwidth Virtualization technology already provides an abstraction layer via a standards-based GMPLS software control plane, integrated OTN switching and photonic integrated circuit (PIC) technology.  Key learnings from this demonstration are that Transport SDN can provide useful, programmable interfaces to Tier 1 service providers, and that optical hardware and software are SDN ready.

“This pioneering demonstration is an important first step on the path toward enabling Transport SDN,” said Chris Liou, VP Network Strategy, Infinera. “For service providers interested in deploying Transport SDN, we believe the OTS can play a key role in realizing many benefits, including simplified provisioning of bandwidth services in multi-tiered, multi-vendor, multi-domain environments, increased efficiency and utilization of network resources, and an open, programmable transport network for enhancing integration and automation with applications.”


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