No, the title of this blog is not trying to establish some sort of vaguely disturbing Internet resonance with the current troubles in Crimea. Instead, it is a direct reference to the fact that large, traditional metro optical vendors suddenly find that their complex – and expensive – proprietary data center solutions are now becalmed in an evolutionary cul-de-sac.
Why? Because a forward-looking faction of the previously stunted and slow-moving world of optical networking has gone to the gym and received a complete makeover for the modern world of next-gen data centers and cloud services.
First, six vendors – including Vello – and one innovative service and data center provider, Pacnet – joined forces as Founding Members of the new Open Source Optical Forum (announced at the March 2014 OFC event in San Francisco).
Chartered with promoting the adoption of standards-based, interchangeable, easy-to-use, and power-efficient optical networking technologies into next-generation data centers and cloud environments, OSO is providing open source device-ware code that is fully compatible with the OpenFlow 1.4 protocol from the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).
The ratified OpenFlow 1.4 release contains all the Vello-authored optical extensions previously lacking in OpenFlow. (Vello is a Founding Member of the ONF.) Now optical and Ethernet switches — and other devices, such as optical cross connects – running OSO software can be fully integrated in an OpenFlow environment and easily configured from a single interface. No more requirement for a resident optical high priest and six acolytes to install and maintain optical networking assets.
While the software disruption offered by OSO is a huge game changer in and of itself, there’s also a new hardware sheriff in town – a wholly new class of optical switch that completes the dismantling of the status quo. And these new switches are not a year out. More like 90 days or so from market thanks to a variety of OEMs.
Completely based on off-the-shelf merchant optics, these are the world’s first optical switches in an enterprise-friendly 1RU “pizza box” form factor, and they are coming to market with OSO software.
Think about that: 4x the capacity per network element of existing solutions with half the power consumption and saving 6x to 8x in rack space on top of that — basically three racks of today’s equipment shrink to less than half a rack.
With plug-and-play multi-vendor interoperability, automation and programmability, what’s not to like, particularly as they are half to a quarter of the cost of existing legacy chassis-based switches.
Oh, yes, the architecture of these new DWDM switches is fully extensible from 10G to 100G and all the way up to 1Tb – now that really is investment protection.
All of this comes at the perfect time to help solve the bandwidth crisis inherent in the growth of Cloud services where demand for optical connectivity is off the charts as data centers require increased performance, reliability, and geographic connectivity.
Vello’s innovative Connectivity Exchange software and applications can use white-box Ethernet switches and these new OSO-powered merchant-optical switches to provide optical router bypass, application-based routing and virtual cross connect capabilities.
Taken together, these developments genuinely promise to disrupt the business models of a different class of legacy equipment vendors. Sounds like a good topic for my next post.