Pacnet virtualizes optical layer, adds bandwidth self-service

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Pan-Asian operator Pacnet has announced its work with optical infrastructure vendor Infinera to bring network virtualization technologies into the optical layer, utilising software defined networking capabilities. The introduction of SDN into Layer 1 is intended to afford customers requiring high-capacity to access high bandwidth availability on a self-service basis.

The operator announced the work is being done with Infinera, making use of the vendor’s open transport switch (OTS) software platform, a form of SDN, across the optical layer of the Pacnet Enabled Network (PEN).

PEN is a trans-pacific, 100 Gbps submarine network that delivers integrated network and technology solutions to enterprise customers across the Asia region. PEN launched last year, and in late-2013 the operator went public with beta-phase demonstrations showing how SDN and the open-source traffic routing protocol OpenFlow were allowing programmable and real-time allocation of bandwidth across varying parts of the network on an ad hoc basis.

At the time, the announcement of real-world SDN in action was streaks ahead of any other research .or development going on in the telecoms industry.

“In November 2013, we launched the industry’s first fully-automated, SDN-based service delivery platform, Pacnet Enabled Network, on Layer 2 Ethernet. Today, we are excited to continue to lead through innovation by bringing this capability to our optical layer,” said Jim Fagan, president of managed services at Pacnet. “With this deployment, Pacnet can deliver to our customers a true cloud experience to better utilise our unrivalled network assets.”

Utilising SDN capabilities already engrained into PEN, Pacnet customers are able to dynamically request and provision bandwidth through a self-service portal, which is scalable to business needs. So far, the self-service portal has been applicable to Ethernet services on Layer 2 of the network, ranging from 1 Mbps to 10 Gbps.

Infinera claims the contribution of OTS to PEN will allow customers to access self-service capabilities on the network’s optical layer, thus gaining access to far superior allocation of bandwidth, which could, theoretically, boost service speeds by powers of 10 for high-capacity customers. The vendor reckons the service is intended to allow services in increments of N x 100 Gbps in the future.

Michael Howard, principal analyst of carrier networks at IHS-Infonetics Research, reckons the announcement compounds Pacnet position at the very forefront of SDN in telecoms network infrastructure.

“This new service offering highlights how Pacnet continues to lead through innovation, particularly in the area of Software-defined Network services,” he said. “While many providers have been doing SDN lab evaluations or performing SDN proof of concept tests, Pacnet today is delivering the first large-scale, commercially available Transport SDN-enabled service, and it is based on the Infinera Open Transport Switch.”’s news coverage is sponsored by NEC.


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