Hans-Juergen Schmidtke and Luis MartinGarcia, Facebook

The New Transport Network: From Open Transponders to Disaggregated Cell Site Gateways

Posted on October 17, 2018

What a year 2018 has been for the Open Optical Packet Transport (OOPT) group! We are truly excited to share the results the group has delivered on several key initiatives, bringing its vision of unbundling IP and optical networks. Since the formation of the OOPT group, several leading operators, supplier partners, and technologists have come together to collaborate on key initiatives to enable more open and disaggregated network infrastructure, and providing more flexibility and a wider range of technological choices to build and operate telecom networks.

The concept of disaggregation is no longer something that only applies to a fraction of the infrastructure. It now encompasses something much wider that will likely become the norm in transport networks, much like what we’ve seen in data centers and cloud computing.

The group has been working on many technologies, from open transponders, to disaggregated cell site gateways, software abstraction interfaces, simulation tools and more. Today, we’d like to share some of the remarkable progress and accomplishments in the last year:

  1. Vodafone, Telefónica, TIM Brazil and Orange leading work to disaggregate the cell site gateway with “Odyssey-DCSG”
  2. NTT, Cumulus, Oclaro, Acacia, Edgecore, Fujitsu and others create and contribute TAI – the Transponder Abstraction Interface
  3. Voyager becomes commercially available via ADVA Optical Networking
  4. GNPy version 1.0 released to help operators plan multi-vendor optical networks
  5. Telefonica and NTT form a new OOPT sub-group to look at the network end-to-end: Converged Architectures for Network Disaggregation & Integration (CANDI)

Disaggregated Cell Site Gateways: the beginning of the Odyssey-DCSG

Open networks can support operators as they build out 5G infrastructure by reducing costs, expanding the vendor ecosystem and leveraging automation so they are more agile in introducing new services. Expanding the scope of disaggregation efforts beyond the optical transport networks, the OOPT group has embarked on a new journey in the mobile infrastructure space.

Four major global mobile operators have collaborated closely through the Disaggregated Cell Site Gateways (DCSG)  sub-group to define the next generation of devices that connect the base stations to the rest of the transport network. The effort was started by Vodafone and, since its inception earlier this year, the group has brought together three additional global mobile operators – Orange, Telefónica and TIM Brasil – who have been collaborating closely to define requirements and technical specifications.

In anticipation of the forthcoming RFI, two supplier partners – ADVA Optical Networking and Edgecore Networks – have already started working on the design and contribution to TIP of “Odyssey-DCSG”, the first device that will meet the DCSG technical specification, and are committed to take the technology to market. Odyssey-DCSGwill leverage software innovations in several areas including operations and management, with the potential to allow operators more freedom to select the best technologies for each layer of the stack.

Transponder Abstraction Interface (TAI)

TAI is an open interface designed to drastically reduce the time required to integrate optical subsystems/modules and the network operating system from months to days. Inspired by the success and wide adoption of Switch Abstraction Interfaces (SAI) from the Open Compute Project (OCP), TAI brings together disparate parties from optical network systems developers, Network Operating System (NOS) vendors, and optical subsystem/module manufacturers by providing an abstract software interface for quicker integration. NTT and Cumulus Networks have been collaborating with Acacia Communications, Edgecore Networks, Fujitsu Optical Components, IP Infusion, and Oclaro in contributing the interface definitions and executing the first implementation. Many of these contributing vendors demonstrated TAI at the TIP Summit running on the Edgecore Networks’ Cassini open packet transponder with coherent DSPs and optical transceivers from the partners. Moving forward, the OOPT group will collaborate closely with Microsoft – a leading contributor of SAI – to accelerate the effort of providing open, modern and extensible abstractions interface to NOS developers for smoother integration. This is a key enabler in bringing together large supplier ecosystems to take solutions to the market. We expect this initiative to serve as a catalyst in driving rapid innovations in disaggregation of optical transport networks.

Commercial availability of Voyager

Continuing the momentum created through successful live trials, ADVA Optical Networking is announcing the commercial availability of Voyager, the industry-first open and disaggregated converged packet/optical transponder. This final milestone is a true testament to how effectively contributors in the OOPT group have been working together, starting from the early days of conceptualizing an idea to bringing the solution to the market after rigorous testing and trials. This journey has provided the wider TIP community with highly repeatable development and go-to-market blueprints that other supplier partners and TIP projects can follow.

GNPy 1.0 release

The Physical Simulation Environment (PSE) sub-group has been relentless in hardening and improving the GNPy software to unlock a variety of use-cases in multi-vendor optical networks. The team has just released a stable version 1.0 of the library. Orange, Telia, and Microsoft have demonstrated through their own use-cases of how GNPy enables their organizations in determining various transport performance and constraints in vendor-agnostic ways, providing deeper insights and visibility for their critical operational strategies. GNPy will bring much more automated operational practices in provisioning and managing wavelengths, serving as a critical control point of the back-end SDN system. The success of the GNPy software will further help pave the way toward lowering the operational barriers to introduce equipment from different vendors in the optical network and optimize it, something that until now hasn’t been as simple as a lot of operators would have liked.

Introducing CANDI

To continue maintaining the OOPT group’s focus directly and contextually on enabling operators to plan and deploy disaggregated, open systems across a wide span of their infrastructures, the OOPT group has formed the newest sub-group called CANDI– Converged Architecture for Network Disaggregation & Integration. As the name implies, the sub-group’s primary focus is on constructing an end-to-end reference network architecture that is conducive to disaggregation, as well as evaluating logical integration points among disaggregated components within the reference architecture. The team will do so by identifying real-world, end-to-end service use-cases and deliver solutions using open software and technologies. Two global operators – NTT and Telefónica – will lead this effort, supported by additional operators and OOPT sub-groups. To accelerate the adoption of disaggregated, open technologies in their mission-critical networks, simplifying the integration is a critical enabler to sustainable and repeatable success. Key outcomes will include architecture blueprints, deployment guidelines, and other valuable learnings which everyone can benefit from.

We are proud of the progress and accomplishments made by the OOPT group in 2018. The group has clear focus on solving real issues and driving results by combining valuable experience of global operators and technology partners. Solving complex problems requires a diverse set of minds. This is how collaborative communities like TIP thrive in incubating new ideas in areas where fundamentally different approaches are most needed. Our results are for everyone to benefit from and we would like to invite those of you who are not current members of TIP to join us in re-imaging telecom infrastructure and shaping the future of IP and Optical networks.