Agility for an App-centric Network

The App-centric World Current dynamics indicate that the market is likely in a once-per-decade moment of uncertainty and change. The world is transforming into an application-centric environment, and the role of the network is taking center stage with computing and storage. This new environment brings both pros and cons and places unprecedented demands on networks of all kinds. Research and Education networks form the early proving grounds to explore, qualify and if proven valuable, transferred to the commercial market world and form leading solutions. For those operating NREN’s, this means a transformation from their present mode of operation. They must transform a multi-layer, multidomain, multi-network design that offers commodity-type connectivity, which is both expensive and manually intensive, into a new, less costly, tightly integrated service model that is automated, application-sensitive, and software-defined. At the same time preserve their “private Internets” for elephant flows and high capacity e-science applications. The days of static connections and closed networks are gone. Openness The changing role of the network, with connectivity becoming an equal participant along with computing and storage in the application ecosystem—presents a variety of implications. Typically, virtualization has been thought of in terms of how to make computing and storage resources adapt to changing needs and be used more efficiently. The same principle should be applied to the network. ‘Virtualization’ is really the ability run a variety of services and functions as applications within this ecosystem, have that ecosystem adapt as user needs evolve, and use the resources as efficiently as possible. Openness is all about enabling control for differentiation and innovation with an open framework for programmability and software. This enables a whole new paradigm for on-demand delivery of services and again addresses the problems with today’s traditional slow and manual model. OPn (pronounced “Open”) is Ciena’s network architecture, derived from the company’s vision of how networks will evolve. The name OPn reflects exponential (n) scale at lower cost, made possible by packet-optical networks. The aim of OPn is to ‘bend the cost curve’ of networking down in the face of rapidly increasing bandwidth and evolving service demands, and enable service providers to deliver new applications and superior user experiences. To do this, OPn provides three key elements: It reduces cost at scale, makes the network programmable, and opens the network via software applications, automatically adapting to changes in capacity needs, traffic type, and user or application location. With OPn architecture, Ciena makes any kind of network transformation possible through the implementation and use of two key attributes: convergence and openness. This transformation provides the ability to create an application ecosystem to serve as a foundation for a platform infrastructure that can resolve the various transformation challenges. That platform infrastructure calls for computing, storage, and the network connecting those functions with users to work seamlessly, in an ecosystem that can deliver the resources any application demands, at whatever level of performance required. Ciena calls this the “performance-on-demand application ecosystem,” uniting the silos of computing, storage, and network connectivity into a single, programmable platform driven by the applications riding on top of the infrastructure. We see it as being highly applicable to providers of research networks too. Convergence Ciena’s approach to convergence is about providing NREN’s with the ability to increase optical and packet capacity at great scale, without exploding costs, by converging networks, network layers, and domains. This includes the convergence of disparate network segments across various geographies, as well as multiple single-purpose networks, for residential, mobility, and enterprise traffic in a single network infrastructure. This convergence ultimately delivers a better experience in a network that transforms user-to-content and content-to-content connectivity. This provides increasing scalability and efficiency, as well as unsurpassed network visibility and control. But, perhaps more importantly, provides the building blocks to create tailored and cohesive packet-optical solutions that provide a simpler operational architecture for each unique networking environment. This simpler operational architecture means faster provisioning of Layer 0-2 services, faster fault isolation and mean time to repair, and a fully flexible, programmable network foundation that can operate in a Software Defined Networking (SDN) architecture and respond intelligently to application needs. Ecosystem, not ego-system SDN and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) look certain to reshape the networking industry landscape and much of this based on ground breaking work pioneered in research networks. Networking vendors and operators are now mustering to address and benefit from the sea change that SDN/NFV represents, making this an opportune time to bring a couple of key ideas back to front and center. However, full achievement of the industry’s— particularly network operators’—aspirations for SDN/NFV depends on the formation of an expansive landscape of industry contributors and innovators. In short, it requires the establishment of a broad industry ecosystem, not a series of ‘ego-systems’ revolving around particular vendor implementations, forming competing silos, and reducing the scope and sweep of operator choices. Second, the successful establishment of an expansive ecosystem requires embracing expansive openness throughout the top-to-bottom architecture. The general consideration of increasingly software-based networking, and the industry discussion about SDN in particular, has always stressed the value of unleashing ecosystem-based innovation. Leveraging a software-centric network and applications architecture—horizontally organized in distinct layers, with clearly delineated functions and stably separated by open interfaces—creates a broad field of opportunity and innovation for an expanding range of players specializing in one or more of application software, control software, and infrastructure. Network operators especially will gain the ability to choose, mix, and match more easily from among an expanding landscape of useful piece parts, designing their own total network systems for the best business focus, achievement, and differentiation. Your network, your rules In this new landscape it is vital that operators’ are able to bring the programmability and on-demand nature of the cloud to the wide-area network (WAN). Ciena’s Agility software portfolio, including a multilayer SDN controller for the WAN and an initial set of three new software applications, enables the delivery of virtualized, on-demand network services and functions. It leverages advanced, real-time analytics to help network operators provision multi-vendor networks, ensure maximum efficiency and resiliency, and rapidly create and deploy new, differentiated virtualized services at lower cost. Built using the OpenDaylight framework, Agility also gives operators the ability to leverage a mix of open source, self-developed and vendor components from a broad ecosystem and helps them avoid being locked-in to a single vendor. Building on the company’s pedigree in intelligent software capabilities via its OPn network architecture, Agility also enables the network to dynamically predict and respond to changing demands from high-bandwidth services and applications. This allows providers to monetize and optimize their networks, enterprises to optimize user application experience, and government agencies to ensure mission-critical performance.



  • Rodney G. Wilson

Part of session

SDN Applications

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