Verizon and Colt make step toward real-time, cross carrier network automation

Verizon and Colt reportedly demonstrated two-way, inter carrier Software Defined Networking (SDN) orchestration by making near real-time bandwidth changes in each other’s production networks.

SDN is an architecture that has come to prominence as an effective way to steer network traffic. The technology involves controlling network behavior with application program interfaces (APIs), enabling network administrators to direct traffic flows from a centralized console and deliver services. According to a report by research firm IDC, the SDN market is expected to be worth about $12.5 billion in 2020.

The demonstration took place at an event in London. According to the companies, this was the the first time two-way, SDN orchestration between carrier production networks has been demonstrated anywhere, and is an important step toward enabling real-time cross-carrier automation.

“We had two standard 10 Mbps E-Line circuits running across the Verizon and the Colt production networks. The connections were between Colt House in London and the Verizon Innovation Center in London. Both networks were interconnected using a standard Ethernet NNI in an Equinix datacenter in Slough (to the North West of London). We ran two high end video streams in loops across both circuits. We then flooded these circuits using an iPerf traffic generator, until the video stopped running smoothly,” explained Peter Konings, EMEA head of product development at Verizon, in an email exchange with RCR Wireless News.

“Then Colt using its portal issued an upgrade request from 10 to 50 Mbps. That request triggered an API to get the upgrade done at the Verizon end of the circuit. After on average 10 minutes the video quality returned, all without any manual intervention. Then we did the reverse with a request from the Verizon portal requesting a BW upgrade on the Colt side. Also this one ran smoothly and the second video stream recovered automatically as well,” he added.

Verizon and Colt noted they were working Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) to advance the development of industry standards, with a focus on inter-carrier business and operational Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) APIs. The companies said they hope to accelerate the availability of this flexibility through the collaboration.

“This showcase positively demonstrates the power of software defined networking and how increased adoption is putting operators and customers in control of their networks and services,” said Mirko Voltolini, head of network on demand at Colt, in a statement. “Previously, closed systems have made interoperability between service providers extremely difficult. Further, it validates Colt’s strategy of providing on-demand flexibility to truly enable customers’ digital transformation journeys. Through the use of SDN, providers are now able to better collaborate and innovate, ultimately benefiting customers.”

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