Cyan stripes SDN element adapters across Cisco and Juniper platforms

via Flickr © brand0con (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via Flickr © brand0con (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The benefits of SDN are usually intoned in a  list of abstractions (ironic because abstraction is what SDN is all about). Things like lower CapEx, lower OpEx, greater agility, faster speed to market all usually top the list.

One of the most important concrete things it does to meet these objectives is to kick out the command line interface (in theory) which still predominates when it  comes to managing networked boxes.  

Instead, the SDN system talks to a string of element adaptors installed on all the manageable boxes on the network and the adaptors convert the ‘abstracted’ commands from the SDN controller into box-specific instructions. Easy to write and say, hard to do.

But to make this approach really fly - so that the engineers are able to provision services across a multi-vendor network in a fully automated fashion - you need most of the boxes to be manageable. The more manageable the better.

To this end Cyan has just announced that it’s built Blue Planet (its SDN/NFV platform) adapters for Cisco ASR and Juniper MX switch/routers.  As these routers form the basis of most of the world’s big packet networks it can probably be counted a good step forward for Cyan, since it will allow many of Cyan’s customers to use Blue Planet to  “automate, manage, inventory and provision” layer 2 Ethernet services across their networks. Note that the capability works at layer 2 only at this stage (setting up switched Ethernet circuits) but that layer 3 (IP routing) capabilities will be added, Cyan tells me.

As for concrete benefits -  it’s estimated (very roughly) that the amount of engineering time required to configure a network, manually provision services and make changes, can be cut by at least 30 per cent through automation.

Blue Planet support is being extended specifically for  Cisco ASR 901, ASR 903, ASR 9000 and ME 3600 platforms, and the Juniper MX960, MX480, and MX2010 platforms.

“Customers are looking for us to integrate and orchestrate Cisco and Juniper based on their perspective that the element management systems and SDN tools available today for these devices are not capable of providing the multi-vendor service automation, management, and abstraction that Blue Planet delivers,” said Michael Hatfield, president, Cyan. “This is required for the network transformation our customers are rapidly embracing.”

Commercial availability will be part of the next Blue Planet software release scheduled for Q4 2014.

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