Forum created to push optical SDNs

SDN start-up Vello Systems this week said it is forming an organization to promote open source and software-defined networking principles to optical enterprise networking.

Vello's Open Source Optical (OSO) Forum includes optical component and system vendors, software companies, channel partners and end users looking to spur the adoption of open source optical solutions in data center and enterprise networks, similar to the SDN and merchant silicon trend in Ethernet networking. The initial members of OSO include Vello, Accelink, CoAdna, CrossFiber, O-Net, PacketLight and Pacnet, with more organizations to be announced over the coming weeks, Vello says.

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The group is proposing OpenFlow-based software interoperability among multiple optical products designed for the enterprise and data center so customers avoid lock-in with a specific vendor. Some of the leading optical vendors are Ciena, Adva and Cisco and they are not currently involved in OSO, but Ciena speaks frequently at SDN conferences -- like last week's Open Networking Summit and last month's OpenDaylight Summit -- and all three are members of SDN standards consortia Open Networking Foundation and the OpenDaylight Project.

Of the OSO Forum initiators, only Vello is involved in either of those consortia, as a member of the Open Networking Foundation.

Nonetheless, OSO says it will provide and maintain community-supported open source software that will run on a variety of merchant-optical systems from current and future OSO members. This open source code will reside on the consortium's web site, and any software that supports OpenFlow 1.4 can also be used to run OSO-based optical solutions, Vello says.

The OSO software will include optical extensions that are part of OpenFlow 1.4, which were authored and contributed by Vello in the ONF. Vello said it will also make the optical extensions generally available for other OpenFlow network controller frameworks.

Sources say the OSO formed autonomously rather than within the ONF because of the large optical hardware vendor presence and influence within the ONF. Also, apart from Vello, none of the OSO vendors are ONF members.

Porting OSO software onto existing optical systems will make them compatible with OpenFlow controller and application frameworks, Vello says. But OSO Forum members may also choose to build native OpenFlow 10G/40G/100G 1RU "pizza box" optical systems or other appliances for data center interconnection and optimizing network paths based on application. Vello this week also unveiled software, called Precision Application Networking, specifically for these types of appliances, which it expects to debut in the second quarter for 10G and in the second half of the year for 100G.

OSO-based systems can be deployed and configured directly alongside OpenFlow-based Ethernet switches from a single screen, eliminating the requirement of dedicated optical system configuration management, Vello says.

Though focused initially on metro optical, OSO anticipates folding long-haul optical under its umbrella over time.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 27 years, 22 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

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