SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) this week released the first three reference designs to foster more open source solutions in operator network deployments. Two additional reference designs are still in development.
The reference designs offer a peek inside the brains of operators: showing what they’re thinking, why they’re assembling architecture the way they are, and how one assembles various pieces of technology into network solutions, Timon Sloane, VP of marketing and ecosystem at ONF, explained in an interview.
The reference designs — SDN Enabled Broadband Access (SEBA), Trellis, and Open Disaggregated Transport Networking (ODTN) — now publicly available, were originally agreed upon by ONF’s operator members before feedback was gathered from a group of companies in the supply chain. The public specifications are intended to be used by network operators and vendors during the design and procurement of network transformation efforts.
“To get the operators to agree on a reference design is a big, big deal,” Sloane said. “Our feeling is we have critical mass.”
Operators Push Vendors to Open Source Software
This outlook is very different a year ago when operators told ONF that the vendor community was adding unnecessary complexities and failing to step up and deliver solutions that meet their needs, he added. ONF’s operator members, including AT&T, China Unicom, Ciena, T-Mobile, and Comcast, will now refer to the reference designs when they initiate the sales and design processors with vendors.
“5G is one of the biggest drivers going on right now,” and operators understand that everything in their network is moving to software so they are working furiously to build up capabilities in house, Sloane explained.
The SEBA reference design was authored by AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT, Turk Telecom, and six supply chain partners including Adtran, Ciena, DellEMC, Edgecore, Juniper, and Radisys. The lightweight virtualized broadband platform is based on a variant of ONF’s CORD solution for residential broadband.
SEBA enables multiple virtualized access technologies to operate at the edge of the network with each technology controlled by OpenFlow. It supports residential access and wireless backhaul without the need for virtualized network functions (VNF) processing, according to ONF.
In a prepared statement, Eddy Barker, assistant vice president of design and architecture of converged access systems at AT&T Labs, said the operator has live field trials of SEBA underway and plans to scale it across the network. Robert Soukup, program manager at Deutsche Telekom, said SEBA is helping the operator realize its vision of cost reduction, increased automation, and reduced time to market. It plans to bring SEBA into a field trial this year, he said in a prepared statement.
The reference design for Trellis, which targets network functions virtualization (NFV) with a non-blocking fabric using OpenFlow, was authored by Comcast, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and Infosys. It defines an open Ethernet switch fabric for edge data centers and interconnecting multiple sites.
Trellis also supports VNFs running on servers and network functions operating within the switch fabric. Instead of running embedded control protocols on the switches, the Trellis fabric is moved into applications running on a clustered open network operating system (ONOS) controller, according to ONF.
The ODTN reference design, which is only being released as an informational blueprint because it’s not fully baked yet, aims to create more open source solutions for multi-vendor optical networks that include a mix of transponders from multiple suppliers, according to ONF. It was authored by NTT Communciations, Telefonica, Ciena, and Edgecore.
The benefits of ODTN include “dynamic configuration, more automated operations, and [it] enables value-added functions in an open, innovative way,” Dai Kashiwa, VP of SDN/NFV technology development at NTT.
Sloane says ONF plans to work with its members to continually evolve the reference designs and 2.0 versions of SEBA and Trellis are already in development.