Driving Openness in Optical Networks: An Update from the OOPT Project Group

One year ago, TIP founded the Open Optical Packet Transport (OOPT) project group with the vision of unbundling monolithic packet-optical network technologies in order to unlock innovation and support new, more flexible connectivity paradigms. The group’s ultimate goal is to help provide better connectivity for communities all over the world as more people come online and demand more bandwidth-intensive experiences like video, virtual reality and augmented reality.

Working together within TIP, the OOPT project group has made great progress. We’re excited to see openness take hold across the entire industry, which is driving more collaboration and innovation across all aspects of the network. Before discussing the exciting developments happening within the project group, we wanted to give a brief overview of how the industry is rapidly changing to embrace open and disaggregated systems.

Increasingly, optical networks are becoming more disaggregated across different network elements, including transponders, line systems and management. We’re also seeing the disaggregation of elements that reside within the same device (i.e., the hardware and software). As we disaggregate the software stack, integration becomes key, and vendors are already converging to make this a process with minimal friction. Digital Signal Processor vendors are aligning to create abstraction layers that make it easy for Network Operating Systems (NOS) to quickly support new chips, and NOS vendors are also aligning to make it easier for the network management systems to support multiple devices without having to implement different logic for each type of device.

Optical Line Systems are now open and networks will soon be multi-vendor by default. Transponders are also open and offer clear programmatic interfaces northbound (Yang models, REST APIs, etc.) that allow software to interact with them, as opposed to humans having to point and click every time a new circuit is provisioned. This will be a key feature enabling operators to be able to do more, faster.

The industry is changing quickly, and we’re excited about the progress to date. Our TIP community has been hard at work, and we wanted to highlight a few key efforts, including the great work done within our working groups.

Technology Trials and New Hardware

Today we’re announcing that Edgecore Networks is submitting “Cassini”, a new open packet-optical transponder, to the TIP community. Cassini integrates 100GbE switching with Layer-1 optical transport functions and offers 8 slots for different line-card modules, providing the flexibility to tackle different use cases from data center interconnect to metro and access backhaul.

We’ve also seen tremendous progress with Voyager over this last year. The product is no longer a prototype but is now going through the final stage of engineering before the ecosystem brings it to market. ADVA Optical Networking has led the evolution of the platform and is now ready to announce that the product is generally available and can be ordered today. In addition, today we are happy to announce that Cumulus Networks will be supporting Voyager with their Cumulus Linux software, allowing optical networks to reap the cost and efficiency benefits of the Linux networking model.

Operators are also expressing increasing interest in Voyager and are testing it on their networks. Here are a few recent examples:

  • Telia Carrier used Voyager to close a link of more than 1000kms at 200G using 16QAM, in northern Europe.
  • Internexa has connected the two main cities in Colombia, Bogota and Medellin using Voyager.
  • Orange is connecting two major PoPs in Senegal.
  • TIM Brasil is setting a multi-vendor environment to test device inter operation
  • Vodafone is also planning to undertake field testing of Voyager in Europe next year.

Physical Layer Simulation

The Physical Simulation Environment (PSE) team has created the first open source industry-wide effort to develop a multi-vendor tool for optical network planning. Operators will no longer have to depend on their suppliers to plan routes and network capacity, but will have an independent way to lay out their requirements and simulate network conditions – saving a significant amount of time spent on back-and-forth communication. On the other hand, suppliers can deliver a virtual system with their optical network elements that allows the operator to plan and operate a network efficiently. Project group members including Cisco, Facebook, Juniper, Microsoft, Orange, Politecnico di Torino and Telia Carrier have made great contributions to build this tool.

The team is currently extending the package to support topology building for meshed networks enabled by ROADMs and support for Raman amplifiers. PSE will also start exploring the operational implications of having this technology available, which can provide real-time response to network events.

Open Interfaces and Hardware Abstraction Layers

The Optical Line System (OLS), Disaggregated Transponders & Chips (DTC) and Common API (C-API) groups have been working on the definition of an API architecture, as well as the required control attributes and interfaces, to make multi-vendor, multi-platform management integration easier.

Existing industry APIs are providing source material and the teams are working with the groups driving those APIs to add the necessary extensions to represent the capabilities of transponders and open line systems. These efforts will enable automated service management in a multi-vendor environment across the full range of networking applications (data center interconnect, metro, and long haul).

Disaggregation in optical networking is a reality today. It is already allowing operators to be much more flexible than they were with monolithic solutions, as well as enabling technology makers innovate faster. While we’re pleased with the progress we’ve made over the last year, we know that there’s much more to do. We’re looking forward to more collaboration within the TIP community and with the broader industry to accelerate our efforts and continue driving openness and new ideas in optical networks.