Ciena and Fujitsu this week showed cross-vendor interoperability of optical equipment using Open ROADM Multi-Source Agreement (MSA) standards. AT&T, which is a big part of the Open ROADM initiative, said the demonstration highlights the benefits of using the open source community to enhance greater software control over optical assets.
The University of Texas at Dallas is operating the demonstration at this week’s Optical Fiber Communications (OFC) Conference in San Diego. It’s using Fujitsu’s 1FINITY ROADM and transponder blades, Ciena’s 6500 ROADM and transponders, and control plane services from the Transport PCE project, which is part of the Fluorine OpenDaylight SDN controller release.
The demonstration is using open APIs to connect the entire system to a programmable optical network SDN orchestrator built by UT-Dallas. The orchestrator will dynamically migrate virtual machines (VMs) from one simulated data center to another.
Chris Rice, senior vice president of network cloud and infrastructure at AT&T, said in a statement that the demonstration validates the work of the MSA, “to eliminate vendor lock-in, introduce multi-vendor efficiencies to the transport network, and prove that they systems can seamlessly recovery from disaster conditions.”
Ultimately, the autonomous procedure is meant to demonstrate speed, efficiency and low latency in a disaster recovery situation. AT&T called the demonstration “another step toward realizing the vision of the Open ROADM MSA.”
Road to Open ROADMs
ROADMs, or reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers, are like a network switch that manages data traveling across fiber optic lines. Adding software control allows for dynamic bandwidth management. AT&T, for example, is using an SDN controller to provide centralized traffic control over its inner-city network.
This week’s demo comes a year after AT&T completed a similar trial with unnamed vendors. At the time the carrier said it would deploy Open ROADM gear in Dallas as part of a metro-area trial.
AT&T, along with Ciena, Fujitsu, and Orange, were founding members of the Open ROADM MSA in 2016. The group is focused on tapping the open source community to enhance interoperability and speed up the development process. It also expects open networking to bolster cost savings and improve network performance.
Heidi Adams, an analyst at IHS Markit, had previously stated that “the pressure is on for the industry to deliver more open and interoperable optical networks.”
She noted that the Open ROADM MSA was one of many groups working on the concept. Others include the Telecom Infra Project’s Open Optical Packet Transport Group, the Open Networking Foundation, and the Optical Interworking Forum.
However, Adams questioned whether network operators would be ready and willing to “trade off performance for openness and interoperability.”
“Key concerns include the loss of spectral efficiency gains, system integration and maintenance, lack of operational tools to manage disaggregated networks, and slow or disparate standards development,” she added.