Polatis Readies SDN-enabled Packet/Optical Switch

By Paula Bernier September 19, 2013

Polatis Inc. next week plans to unveil a hybrid packet/optical switch that can work in software-defined networking scenarios. The product, called the Series 6000 Lite 48x48, will be demonstrated at the European Conference on Optical Communication in London. It will begin shipping in the first quarter of next year.

The switch is unique in light of its size, low loss, back reflection and embedded OpenFlow interface, according to Polatis. A fan-free solution, its footprint is 1U. Typical loss is below1dB. Back reflection is more than 50dB. And its OpenFlow interface allows it to work in SDN environments.

The company developed the switch in concert with the High Performance Networks Group at the University of Bristol, which is doing research on the extension of SDN protocols to support dynamic reconfiguration of circuit-switched optical networks.

"Unified software control of the physical layer is a key requirement for next generation networks," said Prof. Dimitra Simeonidou, head of the High Performance Networks Group at the University of Bristol. "Adding SDN support to Polatis optical circuit switches brings dynamic reconfigurability to optical systems and enables us to explore new programmable architectures for efficient, high capacity, telecom and data center networks."

Polatis and the University of Bristol represent just one example of work being done involving the marriage of optical and SDN technologies.

As reported by NFVZone last month, CARANIE, Ciena Corp., Internet2 and StarLight have joined forces to build a research network that brings together SDN with packet and optical wide area network technologies. Ciena's OPn network approach is the basis for the research network, which leverages OpenFlow across both the packet and transport layers. The network, which spans 2500 km, connects Ciena headquarters in Hanover, Md., with the company’s R&D center in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. International connectivity is achieved with Internet2 through the StarLight International/National Communications Exchange in Chicago and CANARIE, Canada's national optical fiber-based network.

Image via Shutterstock

And, as NFVZone explained earlier this month, ADVA Optical Networking, IBM and Marist College recently gathered at the school’s New York campus for an optical transmission demonstration showing how they can leverage OpenFlow-based software-defined networking to connect and control a trio of data centers. The demo included the ADVA FSP 3000 from ADVA and servers, storage and switching technology from IBM. The activity demonstrated on-the-fly provisioning and downloading of pre-defined traffic profiles to quickly reconfigure optical traffic patterns; how an OpenFlow-enabled Layer 2 switching fabric from IBM enabled virtualization across both Layers 1 and 2; and how optical circuits and virtual machines be moved between the data centers in an automated fashion.

SDN is an architecture that separates the control and data planes of the network and automatically looks at flows in the network, understanding the requirements of those different flows and using the network to provide those flows with the appropriate bandwidth and other network resources. This applications-first networking mindset is a significant change from how networks are designed and work today. It takes the traditional siloed approach to networking and effectively lays it on its side.

Edited by Alisen Downey

Executive Editor, TMC

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