dukenetFiber network operator DukeNet Communications sees software defined networking as a great way to give the company an edge. Indeed the company is so enthusiastic about SDN that it has put together a demo of the technology – and that’s no small feat considering that equipment manufacturers are still working out the best way to implement the technology in their products.

“We see things like SDN and [network function virtualization] . . . as an opportunity to leapfrog the competition,” said DukeNet Vice President of Network Architecture and Technology Planning David Herran in an interview. “We’re small and nimble and could get [SDN] into our operational framework more quickly.”

SDN is a new approach to networking  that separates the control plane from other network functionality, thereby centralizing control, streamlining the process of turning up new services and reducing operational costs. Some people see SDN as a key enabler of bandwidth on demand or network-as-a-service – a capability that is seen as a logical complement to server virtualization.

By using virtualized servers, enterprises already are paying for computing resources on an as-needed basis – and to accompany that, the enterprises are asking for the ability to simultaneously turn up bandwidth on an as-needed basis.

DukeNet’s demo shows how SDN can be used to achieve that exact scenario. In its demo, DukeNet uses SDN to provision bandwidth on its own network and to show how at the same time it also could turn up virtual servers. DukeNet doesn’t operate its own data centers so the company simulated a data center in its demo. But eventually the company hopes to work with data center operators to make the capability available to mutual customers.

Underlying DukeNet’s demo is the Blue Planet SDN Platform from Cyan, which is used to turn up carrier Ethernet and optical edge devices from Accedian Networks.

“By having an ecosystem and working through proofs of concept we can have a more educated dialog with vendors and partners,” said Herran.

Herran declined to provide a timeframe for when DukeNet might actually implement the bandwidth on demand capability because vendors are still working through their SDN roadmaps. He noted, however, that prior to using SDN for bandwidth on demand DukeNet might use it to simplify the process of service provisioning when equipment from multiple vendors is involved.


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