Luis MartinGarcia, Facebook

Key Software, Device and Component Vendors in the Telecom Infra Project Create Industry-First Standard Software Interface for Optical Modules and Systems

Device, component and software vendors work together to create an industry-first interface for optical modules to allow fast integration of elements in disaggregated optical systems.

Disaggregation is a trend on the rise that speeds up innovations by breaking a technology into smaller discrete pieces that different companies can independently work on in parallel. This brings flexibility to choose the best technology for each piece at any point in time, but also requires integrating all the components into a final product.

Until now, the integration effort between a network operating system and the underlying optical components has been time-consuming, creating bottleneck for software and optical subsystem module vendors.

This year, NTT and Cumulus Networks have led an effort through the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), in collaboration with other partners such as Acacia Communications, Edgecore Networks, Fujitsu Limited, Fujitsu Optical Components, IP Infusion, Microsoft and Oclaro, to create the Transponder Abstraction Interface (TAI). TAI allows integration of optical subsystems and modules in a uniform manner, removing the software development work for Network OS vendors to support new hardware, allowing optical system vendors to more easily take their solutions to market with existing network software that can support them out of the box.

“Defining hardware abstraction interfaces, such as TAI, will bring more software players into the telecom industry and accelerate the creation of new values. We are really excited about accelerating this innovation with TIP.”

Masahisa Kawashima, Head of NTT Software Innovation Center

The ecosystem partners have developed the TAI interface definition, as well as the first open-source implementations of the TAI interface and have contributed the work as part of  the Open Optical & Packet Transport Project Group (OOPT) in TIP. This initiative was inspired by SAI (Switch Abstraction Interface), a similar software interface construct for switch ASICs initiated by Microsoft a few years back.

The ecosystem partners will demonstrate TAI at the TIP Summit ’18 in London on October 16-17. The demonstration using Edgecore’s Cassini open packet transponder, will show TAI enabling the integration of coherent optical interfaces based on merchant DSPs from NTT Electronics, and ACO or DCO pluggable optical modules from Acacia, Fujitsu Optical Components, and Oclaro, running on Cassini, a hardware platform designed and contributed to TIP by Edgecore Networks.

Once again, players in the tech industry are collaborating to build better technologies with lower barriers for integration, higher reliability, and faster time-to-market. The Telecom Infra Project invites other partners to join this initiative and work together on the exciting future of optical networking.