A majority of service providers worldwide are considering or planning purchases of software-defined networking (SDN) technologies to simplify network provisioning, and create services and virtual networks (see graphic below). That's the finding of Infonetics Research, which just released a new survey on carriers and their SDN, 40/400G and MPLS control plane strategies.
Despite the carrier plans, Infonetics found that most of these SDNs don't exist yet or are ill-defined. Yet 80% of survey respondents are including OpenFlow, which Infonetics says is the most developed programmable network initiative, in their purchasing considerations.
Perhaps their confidence in OpenFlow has been fortified by Google, which is using the technology to interconnect 12 worldwide data centers over 10G links. And Verizon sees OpenFlow as a standard way to implement SDNs across multivendor equipment to centralize network intelligence from a high number of remote locations to its more accessible data centers.
OpenFlow and SDNs would enable Verizon to manage its network elements more flexibly, the carrier has said, so that it can explicitly define paths that might be based on service awareness, or subscriber awareness, or the state of network congestion and other capabilities.
Cisco has a programmable networking strategy but sees a limited role for OpenFlow. Cisco's ONE strategy is founded on an integral role for its network hardware and the intelligence therein, vs. the SDN concept of software assuming control over network hardware with instructions sent to the infrastructure via OpenFlow or another "southbound" interface.
Infonetics' SDN survey is based on interviews with purchase-decision makers at 21 global incumbent, independent wireless, and competitive operators with carrier Ethernet switches and IP edge routers in their data networks. Infonetics asked operators about their deployment plans for 40G and 100G interfaces on routers or switches, reasons for considering SDNs and programmable networks, and the roles of Ethernet, IP/MPLS, and MPLS -TP in their networks.
In addition to the OpenFlow and SDN plans, Infonetics found that 95% of service providers surveyed plan to deploy 100G Ethernet interfaces. Most will not use 40G Ethernet, which is expected to take hold in data centers as an aggregation pipe for multiple 10G Ethernet links.
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