Comcast Business today announced a software-defined networking (SDN) platform named ActiveCore. In addition, the company announced that its software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) business product will be the first product powered by the ActiveCore platform.
In May Comcast Business announced it was deploying Versa Networks’ SD-WAN technology and was beginning a beta trial of it. The cable company today said it has already signed several SD-WAN customers including Jim Ellis Automotive Group in Atlanta, which operates 15 locations across the state.
Kevin O’Toole, senior vice president of product management for Comcast Business, said the company named its new SDN platform ActiveCore because the dynamics of software are going to be “core” to Comcast’s business as it operates in a cloud world.
“It’s a platform that SD-WAN sits on top of,” said O’Toole. “But ActiveCore is an underpinning that will run other future VNFs as well.”
Comcast offers is SD-WAN on a hosted basis. Business customers can view their service online and with a native mobile app. The cable company runs its ActiveCore platform out of its own nationwide data centers.
“The Comcast cloud runs in multiple data centers around the country,” said O’Toole. The company built these modern, carrier-grade data centers that operate servers in an active-active environment. Although the data centers weren’t built specifically for SDN, the ActiveCore platform takes advantage of them.
Comcast hosts the SD-WAN controller in its cloud. “We aren’t asking you to put a controller in your data center,” said O’Toole. “The customer just has to deploy a universal CPE.”
Comcast belongs to several NFV and SDN open source projects, including the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), the Open Network Operating System (ONOS), and the Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter (CORD). But for today’s ActiveCore announcement, O’Toole cited Versa Networks’ software for its SDN orchestration.
The company is stressing that ActiveCore is the first cable-delivered, gig-ready SDN platform in the country. By “gig-ready” it’s referring to its new Docsis 3.1-based gigabit broadband service that it is in the process of rolling out. In the 45 percent of the U.S. that comprises Comcast’s territory, ActiveCore customers will be able to pair their SDN services along with the gigabit broadband speeds if they choose that speed tier.
Comcast’s Business Internet 1 Gig service is already available in much of the Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic, and Central U.S., and it will be available to the entire national Comcast service area by the end of 2017.
While the 1 Gig service is limited to its national footprint, the SD-WAN offering can also operate on third-party connections. O’Toole said Docsis is used by all cable companies, and Docsis 3.1 is “the next-gen of the cable network.”