Wednesday, 10 December 2014


Software Defined Networking (SDN) is currently a widely discussed topic in the telecommunications industry. There are high expectations regarding the technology, including reducing network maintenance costs and unleashing innovation, thus opening the way to new revenue sources and better network monetization. SDN is a concept where the main principle is to separate the control plane from the data plane, and to move the controller function out from today’s routers.

At first this definition does not sound very exciting, but placing the controller function centrally should enable much more “intelligent” network traffic control and, as a result, efficiently deliver new, innovative services for customers. The problem is that for now SDN is still only a concept, and currently the only tangible specification is OpenFlow, but it only defines the protocol between a controller and a switch.

To make the promises of SDN technology come true, there is a need for a platform, enabling a business application that will help opening up telecom networks. The specifications and APIs for this kind of a business application need to be defined to shape the network according to what is required and make it “smarter”. In order for the latter to happen,  a controller needs a comprehensive end-to-end view of the network and all connected services. However, the SDN concept does not define, how to provide such an end-to-end view.

One idea is to leverage the operators’ existing assets like the BSS/OSS ecosystems and prove that SDN won’t make BSS/OSS investments obsolete. IT architecture, where BSS/OSS investments can not only be saved, but even act as a significant enabler for the SDN “revolution”. This means that telecom operators will be able to provide significant added value to the SDN ecosystem.

The Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology is very promising and expected to help operators in reducing costs and boosting service innovation. The cost reduction factor  derives naturally from centralizing the network control functions. Following the Network  Function Virtualization concept, it ensures that the control function can be implemented  on standard equipment (even PCs).

But the real strength of this technology is in its potential to speed up innovation and open up the network. The “smartness” of the SDN controllers comes from the ability to access a complete end-to-end view of the network. Instead of implementing a completely new infrastructure for an SDN controller, the end-to-end view can be delivered by the existing BSS/OSS systems.

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