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Dark Fiber - New OpenFlow API Allows Optical Switch to Reconfigure Data Center Networks

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November 15, 2012

New OpenFlow API Allows Optical Switch to Reconfigure Data Center Networks

By Ashok Bindra
TMCnet Contributor

Photonic switching solutions provider CALIENT Technologies has developed a new application-programming interface (API) for OpenFlow on its S320 optical circuit switch. In combination with an OpenFlow controller, the new API allows the S320 to reconfigure data center networks for optimizing high-capacity data flows at the optical layer.

It also allows the optical switch to function as part of an integrated packet-circuit switched software-defined network (SDN).

According to the developer, the OpenFlow API runs on the S320’s MEMS switching module (MSM), a high-availability switching and control subsystem with redundant control processors and a Linux-based operating system.

In data centers, the 320-port (full duplex) S320 creates any-to-any high-speed fiber-optic fabrics that connect top-of-rack switches to each other and also to core routers for connectivity to the Internet.

The S320 provides high-capacity (32 Terabits per second), low-latency (<60 ns) connectivity for dynamically changing big data flows, which are difficult and expensive to manage with traditional layer 2/3 switches.

An OpenFlow controller, according to the developer, can reconfigure S320 connections based on time of day, real-time application flows or predictive algorithms. This means switch links don’t need to be over provisioned for peak traffic because they can reconfigure on demand to accommodate this traffic.

In a statement, Atiq Raza, chairman and CEO at CALIENT, said, “Now is the right time for SDN-controlled optical circuit switches in the data center because they dramatically lower latency and can provide the instant bandwidth necessary for moving big data.”

“The potential impact on data center is so great that it is already accelerating the virtualization of these networks,” added Raza.

The S320 optical circuit switch, said CALIENT, is based on the company’s proprietary 3D micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) technology. It supports up to 320 ports (320 input ports and 320 output ports) and offers a capacity of more than 32 Tbps with per-port data rates of more than 100 Gbps. Completely agnostic to data protocols, the S320 allows any-to-any network connections with almost no latency (<60 ns).  

Designed to fit in a 19-inch rack, S320’s maximum power consumption is 45 watts. The optical switch handles a total of 640 fiber terminations supporting wavelengths from 1260-nm to 1650-nm as well.

The S320 OpenFlow API will be available for interoperability testing late this year.

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Edited by Braden Becker
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