Software-defined networking (SDN) to date has been around virtualizing and controlling Layer 1/2/3 services inside a fixed amount of optical capacity.
And when optical vendors are quizzed as to why they aren’t using SDN, they say “it’s hard.” They’ll often say that optical transport is as much an art as a science. There are all kinds of variables that come into play at the optical layer where different colors of light are shot down a piece of fiber. Those variables include the fiber itself, as well as changing temperatures and impurities that can impact the wavelengths of light.
But as a start in automating the optical layer, today, Infinera is announcing its Automated Capacity Engineering (ACE) that can automate the capacity at the optical layer.
Mark Showalter, senior director of software and SDN product marketing at Infinera, said the company’s ability to provide software-defined capacity is based on its photonic integrated circuit (PIC) hardware that it developed 15 years ago, and that now can provide 2.4 TB of capacity.
“Infinera has built its own optical subsystems with our own fab. We take this analog art and make it more digital,” said Showalter.
For on-demand optical capacity, Infinera’s new ACE application stays in constant communication with the optical network devices. The application monitors the telemetry of the devices and maintains a database with the information.
ACE takes previously manual offline route and capacity planning processes and implements algorithms in a micro services-based path computation element (PCE). ACE also understands optical impairments and computes optimal Layer 0 routes between nodes across multiple paths, including automatic routing and wavelength assignment with multiple path constraints such as traffic engineering cost, distance, and latency.
“ACE is good at saying ‘you have this network with this capacity and these available routes’ and routing wavelengths through the network you have,” said Showalter.
Infinera Instant Network
ACE is one of three products Infinera announced today as part of its Instant Network. The other two products relate to how capacity is ordered and paid for via software-based licensing.
With its new bandwidth license pool functionality, service providers can activate capacity at the same time an invoice is issued for that capacity. This reduces costs for idle capacity. This new capability enables capacity to be deployed in minutes, while previously, the process would take a few hours.
Finally, Infinera’s new movable licenses enable service providers to use software to move bandwidth licenses across the network as traffic conditions change or fiber cuts occur. Previously, licenses were fixed to a specific line module or platform. Moveable licenses increase network agility.
The Instant Network capabilities are planned across the Infinera DNA software and the Xceed Software Suite. The bandwidth license pool and moveable licenses are available now. ACE is planned for 2018.
The company said its Instant Network is helping it build a foundation for “cognitive networking,” which would take massive amounts of streaming telemetry data and use software to enable the network to make its own decisions.
“Infinera has this vision to build an infinite pool of intelligent bandwidth,” said Showalter.