Open source for the optical domain

Ian Scales
By Ian Scales

Mar 12, 2014

Optical technology is viewed as still, and likely to remain, a set of technologies in ferment - highly proprietary, tied up in intellectual property, fast changing and just not the sort of area you might try to discipline into open source standards - not at this stage..

But now Vello Systems has ‘initiated’ something called the Open Source Optical (OSO) Forum, which it says “is chartered to promote new user models for both enterprise and cloud service provider customers.”

“The forum brings together optical component and system vendors, software companies, channel partners and end-users looking to promote the adoption of standards-based, interchangeable, easy-to-use, and power-efficient optical networking technologies into next-generation data centers and cloud environments. The aim of the group is to spur the adoption of open source optical solutions in data center and enterprise networks by providing an “open optical” counterpart to the rapidly growing world of merchant-Ethernet-based Software-Defined Networks (SDN),” says Vello’s announcement.

The idea of putting the optical domain (or some of it) on top of merchant silicon for the data centre would certainly complete the transformation of the web-scale cloud. Instead of highly proprietary and expensive optical technology, operating against a different life-cycle, and managed by different systems and engineers, the optical and digital domains could presumably be integrated, invested in and depreciated as one complete technology set - one of the big advantages of the whole effort.

Indeed, Vello says, “OSO-based systems can be deployed and configured directly alongside OpenFlow-based Ethernet switches from a single screen, completely eliminating today’s requirement of complex optical system commissioning.

The initial charter members of OSO include Vello, Accelink, CoAdna, CrossFiber, O-Net, PacketLight and Pacnet with more companies and organisations expected to be announced over the coming weeks.

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