Asian service provider Pacnet has deployed an OpenFlow-based network from Vello Systems to give its customers the ability to self-provision WAN and data center services, and tune those services to the specific needs of their applications.
Pacnet has deployed white-box OpenFlow switches and routers running Vello Systems' VellOS software throughout its data centers and points of presence [POPs], as well as a VellOS SDN controller on an OpenStack cluster within its internal cloud. Vello works with several original design manufacturers to certify switches for its software.
On top of the controller, Pacnet deployed Vello's Connectivity Exchange, an SDN application that enables the orchestration of routing and virtual cross-connects tied to application logic. The service provider built a graphical user interface (GUI) on the front end of the application, which allows customers to provision new network connections and services within minutes.
"Instead of a provisioning time of 45 days, customers are going to provision enterprise-class connectivity within minutes," said Jim Fagan, president of managed services at Asia-based Pacnet. "They are going to be able to buy bandwidth by the hour and scale that up and down. They will get to pick the quality-of-service attributes they want. If they want low-latency, they can choose a low-latency route and get a service-level agreement on that. If they are looking for low-cost, they can choose a best-effort route. That cost will be transparent to them."
Pacnet owns and operates undersea cables across the Pacific Ocean and maintains 18 data centers and multiple POPs in 10 countries. The carrier is calling its new SDN WAN the Pacnet Enabled Network.
The Vello Systems technology automates and abstracts away the complexity typically associated with provisioning WAN connectivity. Rather than having engineers configuring routing protocols and building network topologies by hand, Vello presents an application-centric provisioning model.
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"Instead of using networking protocols to define the behavior of a network, which may not be in sync with what an application needs, we have built hooks into our software to allow for direct control of the network from that application," said Karl May, CEO of Menlo Park, Calif.-based Vello Systems. "We have built a resource graph that defines -- in terms of applications and users and compute and storage elements -- where everything is [and] what logical distances they are from each other. Then it presents that to an application through open interfaces so the application can decide how to use those resources according to its needs."
In the first phase of Pacnet's SDN WAN, customers will provision static network flows for applications through the GUI.
"Once they're in our network, they will have [a list of] their access points within our POPs. Ports will be labeled. Then it looks like a normal Visio document for a network engineer," Fagan said. "They can create their own network based on that."
Enterprises will be able to define flows based on the needs of the applications they are deploying. They can set the latency they want and the controller will pick the best network route to match that requirement. They can select bandwidth. They can also set the timeframe of the service. If it's a frontline application, they can set up a link that runs for a year or more. If it's a simple, one-time backup or server migration, they can provision a connection that lasts a day or a week, Fagan said.
The second phase of the network, which rolls out in mid-summer, will expose application programming interfaces directly to an enterprise's applications, offering enterprise application owners a degree of automation when requesting WAN services for their applications.
"Sophisticated customers will be able to program directly into their applications how to control our network," Fagan said. "I'm taking my network and giving it to my customers and letting them use it the way they want."