BT to lab test disaggregated switching against the traditional integrated alternative

Ian Scales
By Ian Scales

Aug 16, 2017

via Flickr © stevepaustin (CC BY-ND 2.0)

via Flickr © stevepaustin (CC BY-ND 2.0)

  • BT and Dell EMC develop a 'Proof of Concept' for disaggregated switching
  • Trial to use the sort of ‘open’ network switches currently used in data centres
  • BT to evaluate performance of  the disaggregated switch and software combination against traditional integrated switching hardware

In another move towards the use of commodity silicon together with disaggregated switching in the data centre (see today’s - HPE folds Big Switch Networks into its ecosystem to take on Cisco in the data centre) BT and Dell EMC have inked a research collaboration agreement under which they’ll develop a ‘proof-of-concept’ (PoC) trial at BT Labs in Adastral Park, Suffolk, using open network switches and switching software.

As with the HPE tie-up with Big Switch, the idea is that the disaggregated switching can be used to create more flexible and responsive networks. The trial will use the sort of ‘open’ network switches currently used in data centres.

BT says the combination of merchant silicon switching combined with either commercially available or open source system software represents a significant shift architecturally, in that it applies server-like principles to the delivery of dynamic network services over fixed-line and wireless networks, it says.

BT will be evaluating the performance of the Dell EMC disaggregated switches and software combination against traditional integrated switching hardware to see how the solution stacks up in terms of economics and programmability.

BT says the disaggregated switches should have several advantages over traditional network switches. They can be managed flexibly using Netconf protocol and YANG models which will allow the switches to be operated in tandem to provide new network services or to  make configuration changes rapidly.

BT will work with Dell EMC to look at a number of potential use cases as part of the trial, including the instant activation of Ethernet circuits from a third party, and the ability of the system to deliver real-time network operational data.

The platform also has the potential to deliver other programmable use cases such as bandwidth calendaring – flexing the bandwidth of an Ethernet circuit according to customer needs via a predetermined calendar – and delivering network telemetry data to third parties automatically.

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