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Mar 13 2017

Why blue is the color of Software-Defined Access Networks

Twitter: @nokianetworks

Virtualization is coming to a fixed access network near you, probably sooner than you think. Our software-defined access networks (SDAN) got a lot of attention on our booths at the recent FTTH Conference (see post-show video below with CTO Fixed Networks David Eckard) and Mobile World Congress 2017, so you may have seen SDAN already. But if you didn’t, I can tell you one very important fact about it:

It’s blue.

My last blog addressed the promise and importance of virtualization. Here in this new white paper: SDAN - Applying SDN/NFV to fixed access networks, we introduce a new way of working and how Nokia has taken a leap into the blue in a software-defined world.

SDAN as such isn’t a product; it’s much more than that. It’s a way of engaging with service providers around the world to collaborate on real-world SDN/NFV use cases, drive standardization and co-create the next generation of virtualized solutions. SDAN concepts such as the NETCONF/YANG paradigm shift, G.fast Persistent Management Agent and the Nokia Access Controller have already been introduced into our portfolio and we will continue along this path.

So, what’s blue got to do with it?

This blue box is our software-defined optical line terminal (OLT) that we’re using to validate the concepts of a software-defined access and which is entirely managed via open interfaces such as NETCONF/YANG. Blue is Nokia’s color. Blue makes it stand out from the crowd. But the blue livery has a hidden meaning.

In creating new hardware and software for modern cloud platforms and developing real-world use cases with operators, we’ve uncovered an important distinction between today’s proprietary hardware (black box) networks and the theoretical COTS hardware (white box) world of SDN/NFV.

Obviously, with virtualization it’s all about the software. It’s about how you manage a network in software – instantiating, virtualizing, creating time capsules, versioning, bulk editing, being always-on, network slicing, and so on. In this respect, the color of the box is very symbolic. A black box uses dedicated, proprietary software that is limited in programmability and openness. A white box is a cheap, empty shell that needs all the software added to it.

The truth is rarely black or white, but nearly always somewhere in between. Our blue box represents the in-between truth for virtualization (and blue is so much nicer than grey).

We’ve been able to find this truth thanks to close collaboration with our customers. Operators are aware that proprietary software comes with costs, but so does open source. Operators are looking for the smartest investment to harness the benefits of openness and programmability and move it forward across their network/IT operations. This blue box gets closest to what they want because operators can have a hand in making it. Moreover, they retain peace of mind as it has been conceived by people who know their networks inside-out and will drive standardization and interoperability.

It represents a new way of working, where vendors and service providers collaborate in open software frameworks and optimize the end-to-end behavior across different domains, which is one of the key advantages of SDN.

Get in touch, or leave a comment below if you too, would like to go blue.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #nfv #sdn #fixednetwork #ftth

About Filip de Greve

As product marketing manager at Nokia, Filip focuses on new market strategies for innovative copper and fiber based access solutions. He holds a Ph.D. in telecomm and has over 10 years experience in the ICT & telecom industry with broad expertise in hardware, software and services. He loves road cycling and thrives on thinking outside the box to explore new ideas and concepts.

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