Work begins on virtualization in transport layer

The Optical Interworking Forum (OIF), an industry group uniting the data and optical networking sectors including carriers, component manufacturers and system vendors, said this week that it will soon start work on a specification for Virtual Network Services (VNS) that could become a main driver for deployment of SDN (software defined networking) in transport networks.

VNS are delivered by slicing up the network to separate the underlying network resources and present them to the customer or application as a virtual network. The forum said it intends to look at potential classification of VNS depending on the customer or application needs for varying levels of control of their virtual network resources.

“This work on VNS is timely as the network struggles to define SDN services for transport networks,” said Vishnu Shukla, ‎Principal Technologist at Verizon and the OIF president. “The OIF has a history of recognizing gaps in technology through its member interaction between carriers and vendors.”

The move marks the start of virtualization technology filtering out into the wider transport network as the focus so far has been on the core and access layer. Both virtualization and Software Defined Networking are considered essential to the future of telco networks in order to deliver flexibility, scalability and quicker time to market for new services, forming an integral part of next generation networking and 5G technologies.

European carrier Telefónica is one of the most vigorous operators within the NFV proponents and the firm marked the opening of MWC 2014 by setting out aggressive plans for the virtualization of its network functions, including detailed timelines relating to different network elements. The project has been dubbed ‘Unica’ and has as its headline aim the virtualization of 30 per cent of all new infrastructure by 2016. Ahead of the announcement, Telefónica’s global CTO Enrique Blanco briefed a small number of industry press about the firm’s plans, saying Telefónica is “reaching the limits” of the performance it can drive from proprietary vendor platforms, and the “lever” with which the operator can exert the greatest force for change is virtualization.

The Broadband World Forum is taking place on the 21st – 23rd October 2014 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

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