20 September 2017
BT and Dell EMC are collaborating on research dedicated to validating a new way of managing network traffic.
Their proof-of-concept, which is taking place at BT Labs in Adastral Park, Ipswich, will explore how disaggregated switching can create flexible networks that are more responsive to customer needs.
Unlike traditional integrated network switches currently used by data centres, operators and enterprises around the world, disaggregated switching utilises merchant silicon-based systems combined with either commercially available or open source system software.
According to the two partners, this represents a “significant shift architecturally”, applying server-like principles to the delivery of dynamic network services over fixed-line and wireless networks.
They add that disaggregated switches have several potential advantages over traditional network switches, as they can be managed flexibly using Netconf protocol and YANG models.
It’s claimed this makes the entire system inherently programmable and allows the switches to be operated in concert to spin up new network services or make configuration changes rapidly.
BT is evaluating the performance of Dell EMC’s disaggregated switches against traditional integrated switching hardware to test the performance, economics and programmability of this new virtualised approach. The company says the trial will enable it to make informed decisions about the role this kind of solution will play in the dynamic network services of the future.
The two companies will evaluate a number of potential use cases as part of the trial. These include the instant activation of Ethernet circuits from a third party (such as an enterprise), and the ability of the system to deliver real-time network operational data.
The platform also offers the potential to deliver other programmable use cases such as bandwidth calendaring – flexing the bandwidth of an Ethernet circuit according to customer need via a predetermined calendar – and delivering network telemetry data to third parties automatically.
“The service provider network of tomorrow cannot be built on yesterday’s technology,” says Tom Burns, SVP and GM of Dell EMC networking, enterprise infrastructure and service provider Solutions.
“We’re energised and focused on collaborating with BT to drive innovation and help achieve their goals of enhancing network agility, flexibility and programmability to provide the high level of service their customers expect.”