Infinera today announced software-defined networking (SDN) for transport networks used in the long-haul, metro, and data center interconnect (DCI) markets. The new product — Xceed Software Suite — has some pretty sophisticated SDN features, including the use of containers for “slices” of the transport network.
While SDN is used in various domains, including the data center, on-premises at enterprises, and in telco central offices, Pravin Mahajan, director of product marketing with Infinera, says SDN in metro and long-haul transport networks has lagged innovation in those other domains.
“Transport networks are hard,” says Mahajan. “SDN is about taking the control plane to software in the cloud. But in transport, these control planes are all distributed across the network. You need to coordinate state across all network elements.”
Containers & Slicing
Because the Xceed platform was built from scratch, Infinera was able to innovate some features. One of those is something it calls “instant virtual networks,” where end customers can share the physical network but have customized “slices” within that network.
For example, different customers can access their own unique path computation element (PCE). “We’ve used containers for this functionality,” says Mahajan. “Each instance of PCE is done on its own container.”
The word “slicing” is also used within the emerging 5G standards for mobile networks. It’s the same concept of using a network with common infrastructure, but dedicating slices of those resources to individual customers or use cases.
Infinera Expands Beyond PIC
Infinera used to be a company that basically provided one product for one market – its photonic integrated circuit (PIC) for optical networks. But leading up to today’s news, the company has made several announcements, indicating a broadening of its business.
In June Infinera said the research and education organization Géant was improving its pan-European private network. It’s using Infinera’s Open Transport Switch (OTS) software and its Packet Switching Module (PXM) for service provisioning over an integrated packet-optical network.
Then recently, Infinera announced its was partnering with Lumentum to offer open, optical transport networking with a white box optical line system.
“We have a whole new group focused on software,” says Mahajan. “In 2014 there was one big pivot; we went to being a multi-product, multi-market company.”
Infinera is targeting Xceed at its existing customers as well as new customers. Both Windstream and Géant are planning to use the SDN software.