SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Optical Internetworking Forum is edging toward new projects in software-defined networks. SDN has become a hot topic for OIF as it winds up work on 25/28 Gbit channels and merged optical/electrical control planes and starts work on 50-56G links.
Members spent as much as a third of their latest three-day meeting at the end of October discussing new techniques for software-defined optical networks to serve cloud computing. “There are a number of possible projects being talked about,” said Jonathan Sadler, chair of the technical committee for the OIF, a group of more than 70 vendors and carriers.
One that carriers are particularly interested involves creating optical networks that can automatically add wavelengths as needed. The capability is particularly needed for Web service providers linking geographically separate data centers.
“Today optical networks have no ability to make requests for more bandwidth,” said Sadler who is also part of an optical systems product planning group at Tellabs (Naperville, Ill.). “You need something with a higher view of the network that understands what’s going on in the optical transport and packet space, and how this ties into transport could become a project at OIF,” he said.
Google disclosed earlier this year it is using OpenFlow, an open source implementation of software-defined networks to link some of its data centers. “The big difference is they aren’t using SDN to set up optical connections but to steer packet traffic,” Sadler said.
The OIF is about to put out for ballot a document that provides a common way to describe optical and packet networks using a multilayer control plane. The document has been in the works for several years and could help carriers automate processes where traffic moves across electrical and optical domains.
Separately, OIF members have started preliminary work defining short reach 56G channels linking chips to modules. If it is successful, the group could build on that work for longer reach specifications.
“It’s a starting point, and it will be interesting to see what physics issues exist,” he said.
The OIF is nearly finished with its work on a suite of 25 and 28G standards that aim to simplify design of today’s 100G nets now built out of ten 10G channels. “We are seeing implementations and demos of 25 and 28G components interoperating, and we’re moving from bench exercises to real product availability,” said Sadler.