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On March 10, Pacnet announced that it was extending its PEN (Pacnet Enabled Network) NaaS (network-as-a-service) offering to its optical layer services using Infinera's OTS (Open Transport Switch). While the industry has been trialing and demonstrating transport SDN solutions over the last year, this is the first commercial SDN deployment of the technology on a multinational production network, marking a significant milestone for Pacnet and a significant feather in the cap for optical vendor Infinera.

A model of things to come

Pacnet provides managed data connectivity services over its 43,000km fiber network, primarily in Asia-Pacific. The company launched its SDN-based Pacnet Enabled Network service in January 2014, providing automated SDN control of Layer-2 Ethernet services from 1G to 10G. With this new upgrade, Pacnet extends its SDN-based control to the Layer-1 network using Infinera's DTN-X platform. This allows Pacnet to extend its service offering to include N x 10G and N x 100G services, which are very important to its ICP and wholesale customers.

Infinera's OTS provides an abstracted view of the underlying network to Pacnet's PEN SDN controller using programmable Web 2.0 APIs. Pacnet integrated the Infinera OTS in just eight months by using an IT DevOps model instead of traditional telco software development approaches, which have a much longer development cycle. Infinera has taken an open software approach to help customers avoid vendor lock-in. Its OTS software runs on an external x86 Linux server, the information models used align with ONF specifications, and the company exposes its standardized Web 2.0 APIs to Pacnet so it can create its own apps, support portal, and APIs for its customers.

Using this approach, Pacnet is able to virtualize the optical layer, and enables its users to directly provision bandwidth across its pan-Asia network in minutes rather than weeks. This allows better use of network assets, increases agility of its network and customer retention, and lowers operational costs while bringing a host of new on-demand services that can increase revenues.

While many "talk the talk" with regards to transport SDN deployments, Pacnet and Infinera are "walking the walk." Pacnet's extension of SDN to the optical layer using Infinera's OTS is a model of things to come, and the companies deserve significant recognition and praise for their innovative approach.


Further reading

Telstra: Strengthening its Asia-Pacific Strategy with Pacnet Acquisition, TE0005-000682 (January 2015)

Driving Innovation in the Optical Core with SDN, TE008-001417 (February 2014)

On the Radar: Pacnet Enabled Network, TE007-000774 (April 2014)

Pacnet's Niche in the Asia-Pacific Enterprise Market, TE007-000766 (March 2014)


Ron Kline, Principal Analyst, Intelligent Networks

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