EKINOPS helps to bring optical transport a step closer to SDN

Guillaume Crenn, EKINOPS Product line & Marketing Director, recounts a recent technical breakthrough enabling legacy optical equipment to function in tomorrow’s virtualized networks.

Interoperability remains one of the biggest challenges facing operators seeking to software define their networks. Powerful new frameworks, like OpenDaylight (ODL), are needed to disaggregate and rearchitect the network and enable the level of automation and programmability that will, eventually, deliver virtualization’s ‘new age’ of flexibility.

Designed by the Open Daylight Project - a global, collaborative community of vendor and user organizations, of which EKINOPS is a part - ODL is a modular, open framework designed to enable commercial solutions to address a variety of virtualized network use cases, such as automated service delivery, Cloud and NFV, resource optimization and network visibility and control.

A critical hurdle to overcome on the road to enabling such uses cases is how to establish the level of interoperability between the network’s newly separated components and functions in such a way that they can be managed and orchestrated. This is a complex task that requires utilizing controllers for both northbound and southbound communication throughout the virtualized network.

In the world of optical transport, enabling this controller-based communication in ODL is the job of OpenDaylight TransportPCE, a collaborative project led by Orange, EKINOPS and Orange Labs whose work describes an open-source application running on top of the OpenDaylight controller. Its primary function is to control an optical transport infrastructure using a non-proprietary South Bound Interface (SBI).

Recently, TransportPCE made a significant breakthrough. It demonstrated the compatibility of the Ekinops360 platform with the OpenDaylight SDN controller, by successfully implementing a southbound Netconf interface based on a YANG OPENROADM data model.

Without this interoperability in the optical layer, the benefits of virtualized control could not be realized. The automatic provisioning of services relies on the controller’s ability to handle end-to-end optical services that span equipment coming from a variety of different suppliers including non-native Netconf equipment.
The demonstration was achieved during a trial, performed in an optical transport network lab, and consisted of creating and deleting optical paths on an EKINOPS ROADM-based network from an OpenDaylight-based SDN controller developed by Orange Labs, using a family of network elements with no Netconf/Yang interface (i.e. only displaying native SNMP). EKINOPS supplied a Netconf-to-SNMP (or NetConf/Yang – SNMP/Mib) gateway, which connected the SDN controller to the Ekinops360 based network.

The testing performed in the trial showed that the path through the virtualized network could be established in less than a minute, from the moment the order is sent by the SDN controller to the point when a 100GbE service is being transported, error free, end-to-end in the network.

The delivery of this successful trial makes it viable for optical transport networks based on legacy equipment to be integrated into an operator’s network controlled by an SDN environment and, as a result, takes optical transport a big step closer to commercial operation.

EKINOPS is committed to protecting service providers’ investments and will continue to strive to enable operators to extract maximum value from their networking equipment, before during and after their migration to a virtualized environment.