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Physical pooling of identical functional blocks or also called disaggregation to maximize the usage of resources has been prevalent inside datacenters.In similar effort, disaggregation is underway in fixed and mobile networks such that the intelligence is pulled off of the hardware and the software is made more omnipresent and powerful.
The trend of such “softwarization” is the markets answer to vendor-locked problem which hinders first easy and quick introduction of new network infrastructures and second dynamic assignment of traffic resources where the demand is felt.
The open networking movement has gained momentum especially since Facebook’s announcement of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) in early 2016 which challenges the traditional way of deploying access, backhaul, and core and management. As part of this project, Facebook recently introduced ‘Voyager’, a white-box transport hardware (transponder) using COTS components. This 1RU equipment is capable of transporting 800Gbps while enjoying reduced cost structure.
Figure: Open Line System Architecture (https://code.facebook.com/posts/1977308282496021/an-open-approach-for-switching-routing-and-transport/)
The supplementary transport equipment such as multiplexer, amplifiers and ROADMs, also referred to as open line system (OLS), are also undergoing adoption of SDN so that the complete network infrastructure can be controlled centrally.
While such a white-box transport with either SDN-enabled proprietary or open source software would reduce upfront CAPEX, the question about support service still remains unanswered. Unlike hyper-scale datacenter operators, smaller ICP, ISP, enterprises etc. would lack the technical know-how about network designing and investing into that is also not really desired.
Considering the current market trends, the answer to that will be traditional network equipment providers supporting white-box hardware with commercially available software however offering their professional services and consultation on equipment and network designing, planning, provisioning and installation. A drastic shift to open networking with open software will therefore not be immediate.