Cumulus Networks said it launched an industry-first transponder abstraction interface to give transponder vendors more interoperability and make data center interconnect technology more open.
The company made the announcement at this week’s Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Summit in London. It builds on Cumulus’ earlier work to make its open networking Linux operating system available on Voyager, a Facebook-designed, packet-optical transponder platform.
This year Cumulus and telecommunication company NTT led an effort through TIP to develop the transponder abstraction interface (TAI). TAI defines an API for providing a uniform way to control transponders from various vendors. This removes the software development work for network OS vendors to support new hardware, and it allows chip vendors to take their products to market more easily with existing network software that can support them out of the box.
“TAI provides a vendor-agnostic way to manage transponders,” said Ami Badani, VP of marketing at Cumulus Networks. “In short, it allows for interoperability between vendors and unlocks any reliance on a sole vendor.”
Cumulus wrote the initial reference device driver and open sourced it through the TIP GitHub repository.
It also demonstrated TAI at this week’s TIP Summit along with other vendors involved in developing the technology. The demonstration used Edgecore’s Cassini open packet transponder and showed TAI enabling the integration of coherent optical interfaces based on merchant demand-side platforms from NTT Electronics. It also used ACO or DCO pluggable optical modules from Acacia, Fujitsu Optical Components, and Oclaro, running on Cassini, a hardware platform designed and contributed to TIP by Edgecore Networks.
Since announcing the intent to make Cumulus Linux available on Voyager at last year’s TIP Summit, Cumulus has successfully trialed Voyager with Vodafone, NYSERNet, Internet2, GRnet and CESNET. Voyager with Cumulus Linux is sold through Cumulus partner ADVA Optical Networking.
Facebook contributed Voyager to TIP at its inaugural Summit in 2016 to address operator needs for scalable, cost-effective backhaul infrastructure in support of increasing global internet usage and bandwidth-intensive applications like video, virtual reality, and machine learning.
While Voyager with Cumulus Linux marked the company’s first foray into the data center interconnect (DCI) market, TAI furthers Cumulus’ goal of bringing open, optical networking to the industry at large, Badani said.
Why DCI Matters
“We started in data center networking, where we saw an industry that was old, stagnant, slow and being left in the past, and we came up with a way to fix it,” Badani said. “We looked at DCI and it seemed like a really similar situation. Data centers are evolving, and DCI remains stuck in the past. Optics are insanely expensive, transponders are slow to innovate, and data centers are getting faster, more efficient and more affordable. To us, it’s a natural extension of our work.”
As applications become more bandwidth-intensive, operators are looking for scalable, cost-effective backhaul infrastructure to support their customers’ needs for high-performing, wireless connectivity, she added. This drives demand for open data center interconnect.
“By opening up the industry and running everything on Linux, you can run your optics like you run your data center network — efficiently and affordably,” Badani said.
Cumulus plans to work with optical vendors, OS vendors, system vendors, and others to integrate TIA with their platforms, she added.
Top TIP News
The TIA launch is one of several coming out of this week’s TIP Summit. Also this week TIP launched a new edge group with Intel, Deutsche Telekom, and MobiledgeX to produce vendor-neutral APIs and software tools focused on mobile functions running on edge infrastructure.
Vodafone, Telefonica, Orange, and TIM Brasil said they are working together through TIP to develop a white box gateway device for mobile cell sites. Vodafone in Turkey and Telefónica in Latin America said they will begin trials of open RAN platforms from vendors Altiostar, Mavenir, and Parallel Wireless.