NTT says it has successfully deployed terabit-level MPLS transport functions for virtual networks using “white-box switches” (i.e. general-purpose communications equipment).
NTT says it accomplished this using software that enables the use of MPLS functions required for virtual networks, which were prepared as hardware for commercial white-box switches but could not be used.
NTT says this achievement is a big step towards the realization of general-purpose, modularized networks aimed for by the Multi-Service Fabric (MSF), an elemental technology of NTT’s NetroSphere concept established in 2015.
Using generic switches mainly used in data centers, MSF aims for carrier network virtualization (to configure network slices), but this requires transport functions that use MPLS technologies.
To date, however, MPLS transport functions were only provided with software (network OS) by some router vendors even though hardware was equipped with many general-purpose switches.
Hence, NTT has created a software product that is equivalent to a network OS, which can be mounted on white-box switches to achieve MPLS transport functionality by making full use of hardware performance.
NTT adds it has developed the software with “a completely open technology” so that many equipment vendors and carriers will be able to use this software in the future.
As equipment vendors use this software, the white-box switch market that has been limited to the small-scale networks used in data centers and so forth could potentially expand into the carrier network field. That means carriers will not only have a much greater range of choices of network equipment, but also the ability to add functionality with network operating systems themselves. This will make network configuration more flexible, and make it easier to provide even faster communication speeds and more customer-oriented services.
With ongoing studies, NTT will engage in the experimental “NetroSpherePIT” operation and wide-ranging partnering as initiatives for never-before-seen openness while establishing this technology through further expansion of functionality.
Based on the NetroSphere concept, NTT aims to provide both virtualization and speedy, highly reliable and even more diverse services to customers and service providers by driving commonization and modularization of network equipment. (Fig.1)
As part of these efforts, NTT is promoting its Multi-Service Fabric (MSF) initiatives to build networks using general-purpose equipment by using general-purpose products with simple functionality instead of high-functionality specialized equipment. (Fig.2)
Since network functions can be developed independently, MSF provides network architecture in which (1) simplified hardware for transport functions and (2) software for network control can be separated and redefined. This architecture aims for (1) transport functions making maximum use of generic network switches (general-purpose switches) and (2) flexible software functionality for network control. (Fig.3)
Photo by junyaogura