SDN update: Colt paves the way with Blue Planet

One of the announcements at last week's SDN & OpenFlow World Congress at Bad Homburg in Germany came from European network operator Colt and SDN specialist Cyan and may be indicative of the way SDN, NFV and network automation and vitualisation generally will install itself - not as an organised generational change implemented by carriers in lock-step (or close to it) with one another, but as a creeping process (which probably doesn't stop).

In that sense it will be very 'IT' in nature and very incremental and it may, in the first phase, offer great competitive advantage for those network operators small and agile enough to be first movers.

Colt isn't implementing SDN, but it is implementing an automation strategy which will be "SDN-ready". Ready to join into an SDN framework when that arrives later.

Colt has built itself a substantial Europe-wide carrier Ethernet and 20 data centre estate and claims it operates the fourth largest such installation in the world. The new solution is built on Cyan’s Blue Planet software and Z-Series platforms and will help Colt "deliver higher bandwidth, more automated and scalable business Ethernet services. The approach taken is a step-change in the way hybrid Ethernet and IP services are delivered and paves the way for SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV)," says the official release.

It's not controversial to observe that telcos like Colt - next generation infrastructure, business-focused, not too large - will be first movers on SDN and virtualisation although, points out Joe Cumello, CMO at Cyan, the incumbents will be slower but at the same time will have the most to gain in the long run since they will be making the most dramatic savings and agility increases.

But Colt is a great example: "They had developed the big Ethernet network, but there was still a lot of manual configuration and it was multi-vendor, so it was difficult to manage," says Cumello, "So the first real practical application is 'how to streamline my operation using software'."Stay tuned to TelecomTV as we prepare our video stream from SDN & OpenFlow World Congress.

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