Video: Finisar Demonstrates 200G QSFP56 and 400G QSFP-DD Transceivers at ECOC 2018

Video: Finisar Demonstrates 400G CFP8 Transceivers at OFC 2017

Finisar 400G Ethernet Technology Video at ECOC 2015

OSDN –Optical Software Defined Networking: What does it mean for Optics folks?

Buzz is always a good thing, especially when it promotes a new technology concept. Remember when you signed up for every conference or seminar that had the words, “Cloud” or “Data Center” in it? Now the new word (actually abbreviation) is “SDN”! Okay, so I just made up the term from the blog title OSDN -not to be confused with ISDN…remember that? Let’s see how quickly the search engines pick up on that. Seriously, it all started with OpenFlow which became known in a generalized term, Software Defined Networking (SDN). This concept is quite powerful in the data center to optimize traffic flow on the IP layer, especially when dealing with large data sets. The question for us optics folks is how does SDN apply to us?

Years and years ago, I remember the rise of GMPLS (Generalized Multi-Protocol Label Switching), a standard in which an optical switching layer would be controlled by an intelligent management/control layer. Sounds familiar? I think it is very clear that the SDN concept can be applied to the optical layer and many others agree, based on the multiple press releases I have read on this topic:
ADVA Tries OpenFlow
Optical Transport Gets an SDN Idea
Coriant Boasts ‘SDN-Plus’ System

I recently asked my colleague, Craig Thompson, Director of Strategic Marketing at Finisar, why SDN is not the same as GMPLS. Here is a snapshot of our conversation:

EUGENE: Craig, is SDN–especially when applied to the optical layer–just GMPLS reincarnated?

CRAIG: As you allude to, in principal the concept of SDN–specifically the separation of data and control planes–is not new. But it’s the (almost)-standard application of separate control and data planes in both packet and optical circuit switch equipment that is the most exciting aspect of SDN. The telecom market has attempted to embrace ‘standard’ ways of switching large data flows across multiple networks, and multiple vendor equipment for many years, with mixed success. GMPLS was largely confined to a ‘protocol’ and left the actual setup and control of the circuits to vendors, and the network operators they worked closely with.

EUGENE: So, SDN goes further because those who manage data centers are now given essentially an open-standards based toolkit, so to speak.

CRAIG: Absolutely. Fast forward to today and the proliferation of mega-datacenters, IP/Ethernet services in the WAN and even enterprise-owned and managed WANs has driven investment in ‘Software Defined Networks’ to address a much larger opportunity. The stakes are so much higher to unlock the tight integration of vendor equipment and operating system that exists in layer-2/3 packet switches and routers, and the incumbent players know it. SDN is not just about giving the network administrator more and better access to program his/her network down to the individual flow. SDN is about throwing out the old model of proprietary software on top of proprietary hardware, effectively separating the two, making the software more “standard” (at least in basic rules, commands, operation) and giving the network administrator much more freedom. The billion dollar question will be whether this leads to either more commoditized systems hardware, or alternatively, even more specialized hardware to differentiate one switching solution from another.

EUGENE: Thanks for your very insightful comments.

There’s definitely excitement around this concept of OSDN. We are nowhere near the general use of optical packet switching (where OSDN would become extremely important) but there is a role of SDN as it applies to the optical layer when large pipes (400G+) needs some kind of intelligent routing mechanism especially on the transport layers between data center sites. And if SDN is already implemented in the IP layer, it doesn’t take much effort to extend that to the optical layer.

I’m interested in hearing any thoughts our readers may have on this topic.

Finisar WSS WHITE PAPER: Balancing Performance, Flexibility, and Scalability in Optical Networks

The availability of Wavelength Selective Switches (WSS) supporting 100 Gb/s and 400 Gb/s data rates enables network operators to significantly increase bandwidth capacity in DWDM optical networks with substantial CAPEX and OPEX savings. Moving to such higher data rates, however, requires a shift from the continuing trend of implementing narrower optical channel spacing given that data rates beyond 100 Gb/s cannot fit within a 50 GHz channel….

Download Finisar’s latest WSS white paper from our website (see blue downloads box): Balancing Performance, Flexibility, and Scalability in Optical Networks