2nd ON2020 Meeting at ECOC'16 and Plans for OFC'17

The second ON2020 meeting that was held in Düsseldorf during ECOC provides a springboard for a consortium that can drive innovation within optical networking. Developments for next-gen optical cross connects (OXC) and transport SDN (T-SDN) provide key opportunities for service providers, equipment manufacturers and component vendors. To make the most of these opportunities, the industry needs a co-ordinated approach to driving standards and open source developments that impact on optical networking.
There is rapidly growing user traffic primarily driven by video and cloud services. Bandwidth to user devices is also growing quickly with Gigabit broadband, 10 GE enterprise services, 4G/LTE mobile data and 5G expected by 2020. The combination of cloud-based services and the move to virtualisation using SDN and NFV is driving increased data centre bandwidths, both within and between data centers (DCI). The optical transport network needs to be developed to meet these bandwidth demands and provide the flexibility required for service providers to rapidly deploy and scale services.

The industry has developed several new technologies to deliver optical network flexibility including Flexi-Rate interfaces, Flex Ethernet and CDC-F ROADMs. There are many open developments and industry groups supporting SDN and next gen optical systems including ONOS, TIP, ONF, and IETF. There needs to be a coordinated approach to these developments and groups that supports common software architectures and compatible hardware.

The second ON2020 meeting was attended by individuals from a mix of industry-leading companies including ADVA, Finisar, Fujitsu, Huawei, Infinera, and Vodafone. During the meeting, we discussed the radical changes taking place in transport architectures and the need for flexible solutions with support for SDN and disaggregation. Vodafone talked about the key requirements from service providers for next generation optical transport and several suppliers talked about their latest developments to support next-gen OXC and T-SDN. We also discussed the need for a single management stack with common YANG models and open Northbound interfaces.

During the meeting, we concluded that ON2020 was a great opportunity that needed commitment from the industry. We agreed that it should not be a standards group but would define use cases and reach consensus on T-SDN architectures, next-gen OXC, and other next-gen optical transport technologies. These use cases and architectures would be used to generate inputs to standards bodies. For ON2020 to be a success, we will need a critical mass of companies involved and consistent participation. In the future, there may be an opportunity to align ON2020 with a study group within a standards body.

The next steps for ON2020 will be the formation of a steering committee that will agree objectives and mission, based on the discussions in Düsseldorf, and plan a two-hour ON2020 workshop at OFC’17. The OFC workshop will be an opportunity to expand ON2020 participation to the wider optical networking community and start working on use cases for next-gen OXC and T-SDN. Any inputs on the timing for the ON2020 workshop at OFC’17 are very welcome. In the future, ON2020 could facilitate joint demos based on specific use cases.

There is a real need for a consortium like ON2020 that can drive forward innovation within optical networking and provide coordinated inputs to standards and open source developments. This aspiration for ON2020 was widely supported both during the meeting by those who attended and by many ahead who were unable to attend on the day. Now is the time to move ON2020 forward and I hope as many of you as possible will be able to support this development in the run up to OFC’17 and at the planned workshop in Los Angeles.

Some of the key points agreed on 2nd ON2020 Meeting at ECOC'16 were:

1. That ON2020 should not be a standards organization, but a consortium that brings innovations quicker to reality and give inputs to relevant standards bodies when deemed appropriate.

2. That a steering committee should be formed to coordinate future activities.

3. A 3rd ON2020 meeting should be held during OFC’17, preferably in the form of a 2-hour workshop. This could be followed by a group lunch.