That’s changing today, as Cyan is announcing its Blue Planet WAN orchestration will work with some members of the Cisco ASR and Juniper MX lines of routers. Support is due to be added by the end of the fourth quarter.
There’s some hope around the industry that software-defined networking (SDN) will make it easier to operate multivendor networks, and Cyan’s orchestration is one among many platforms that will be making the multivendor claim. So, being able to provision and manage the Cisco and Juniper parts of a network, even just a little bit, seems like a crucial step toward raising Cyan’s profile.
What it will do, though, is have those routers use technology such as pseudowires to create what looks like a Layer 2 path that cuts across the Layer 3 network. “We’re feeding the handoff into that pseudowire, so from our perspective, that core looks like a series of Layer 2 pipes,” says Nirav Modi, Cyan’s director of software innovations.
In this way, Cyan will be able to configure an Ethernet service end-to-end. The service could then be presented to the end user, in abstracted form (leaving out details such as which protocols are running on which ports) on Blue Planet’s graphical interface.
That’s the use case that prompted at least one customer to ask for Cisco and Juniper support. It takes Cyan some effort to add that support, as it needs to create an element adapter, software that connects Blue Planet to the other vendor’s gear. While it’s possible for Cyan to do this solo, the work goes more easily if the other vendor helps, says Joe Cumello, Cyan’s vice president of marketing.
And the way to get that vendor to help is to have a customer walk in and demand it.
Some vendors do voluntarily add themselves to Blue Planet, and that’s how the platform’s multivendor support got its start in 2011. Among the players most interested were the makers of Ethernet network interface devices (NIDs), such as Accedian and Telco Systems.
That was actually enough for delivering end-to-end Ethernet services in a metro environment, because the traffic never hit a Layer 3 core, Cumello says. It just traversed Cyan’s packet-optical gear and, on either end of the service, the Ethernet NID.
Then there was Colt, Cyan’s marquee customer. Colt used Blue Planet for provisioning and managing Ethernet services, and when it came to having the traffic cross a router core, Colt pre-provisioned its IP/MPLS core on its own. “We were aware of the mesh” of routers in that core, “but we weren’t touching those routers,” Modi says.
A Touch of Netconf
Blue Planet talks to Juniper MX routers using Netconf. The Cisco ASR routers don’t support Netconf, so Blue Planet has to talk to them through Cisco’s command-line interface (CLI).
Work on supporting Layer 3 in the MX and ASR routers has begun, Cumello says. It might not take that long. Cyan has sped up Blue Planet development by adopting a template-driven approach, Modi says. Consequently, support for Ethernet Services in the MX and ASR was hammered out with only four weeks of work.