data center researchA new industry coalition dubbed the Blue Orbit Ecosystem aims to bring together the various pieces needed to enable bandwidth on demand for data center connectivity coupled with infrastructure on demand by using software defined networking (SDN). Bandwidth on demand is one of the most commonly cited applications for SDN, which aims to centralize control of network functionality by separating the control and data planes on networking equipment.

Packet-optical transport platform manufacturer Cyan is spearheading the Blue Orbit Ecosystem initiative, which also includes access equipment manufacturers Accedian Networks and Overture Networks; data center equipment provider Arista Networks; ;  software developer Canonical; analytics provider Boundary; Enbrane, which provides SDN services such as firewalls and load balancers to data centers; and RYU, part of NTT Laboratories’ Open Source Software Computing Group. Several coalition members – including Accedian, Arista, Canonical, Cyan, Overture and RYU — will be demonstrating bandwidth and infrastructure on demand using SDN at the Interop Tokyo conference this week.

Tremendous improvement in computing power over the last several years is a key driver behind SDN, said Cyan Chief Technology Officer Steve West in an interview. The idea, he said is to “take high-volume components and lump them together in creative ways and exploit the fact that technologies have commoditized” and to “empower software to be in control of various network resources.”

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At least one standards group, the Open Networking Foundation – is in the process of formalizing SDN standards. But a Cyan spokesman said one of the goals of Blue Orbit is to enable network operators  and data center operators to begin implementing SDN concepts and exploiting the value of SDN in advance of standards.

Blue Orbit also said it would focus on interoperability testing and demonstrations, which is a bit different focus than that of some standards groups.

Asked if bandwidth on demand would be the “killer app” for SDN, West said the industry is “moving to an environment where there is no single killer app.” He cited the example of the iPhone, which has hundreds of killer apps.

“That’s the exciting thing about the next-generation computer and networking environment,” he said. “Economics will drive bandwidth and [we] will be able to do things at a higher volume than in the past.” Automation provided through SDN will simplify the process of harnessing that bandwidth, he said.

Blue Orbit is the second industry alliance focused on SDN announced in less than a month. In late June, Juniper and Sonus said they were partner to develop SDN solutions.

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