Software is transforming and redefining the network, replacing cumbersome legacy equipment with affordable off-the-shelf hardware and enabling unprecedented scalability, agility and flexibility. The software-defined networking (SDN) model is only as effective as its application, however, and a comprehensive and well-defined process for deployment and allocation of services is key to success.
Multi-tier SDN control is the key to implementing that process throughout the network, according to Marie Fiala, director of portfolio marketing for Ciena’s Blue Planet division. SDN adoption is on the rise among network operators, and particularly within multi-layer transport networks. ACG Research reports 15 percent growth quarter on quarter in the market, pointing to increased operator needs and customer demands, and the market is continuing to evolve. Fiala says the SDN controller will play a key role in market growth and stability.
“Just as SDN is not a silver bullet, nor is there a single SDN controller that meets all needs across multi-vendor, multi-domain networks,” wrote Fiala. “As most technology strategists responsible for large scale networks have come to realize, the pragmatic approach is a multi-tier SDN model. Such a model is effective in abstracting the technical complexities from the underlying hardware, or virtualized network functions, a layer at a time, and presenting open interfaces to the higher layer applications.
Perhaps complicating matters even more is the industry practice of labeling any type of management software as an “SDN controller.” But not only should a controller accomplish the basic tasks of establishing traffic policies and rules and configuring infrastructure, it should also decouple software programmability from hardware and virtualized functions and elements to automate networks and better support new services. SDN controllers should also enable intelligent, centralized control and management of all network resources and support open APIs to promote development and multi-vendor interoperability. And a comprehensive controller will perform abstraction of the network for simplified integration with a variety of business apps.
Ciena is hitting on all those features with its Blue Planet Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) software, touted as a “one-stop-shop” for managing packet and optical infrastructure. Founded on an open, extensible software architecture, MCP focuses on software-defined control to abstract the details of underlying networking infrastructure and offer programmatic interfaces to business apps. The result is that network operators benefit from programmability and agility across all layers of Ciena infrastructure, enabling a holistic approach to network control.
While most network operators will benefit from a SD approach to networking, not all SDN controllers are created equal. An offering that provides true control over all layers of the network, along with programmability and interoperability in support of business applications and lifecycle processes, is infinitely more valuable to operators and their customers in the long run.
Edited by Alicia Young