BT and Dell EMC trial new software-defined switches

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BT and Dell EMC are trialling new ways of managing network traffic using SDN and NFV.

The proof-of-concept trial couples Dell EMC’s disaggregated network switches, commonly used in data centres, with specialist switching software in an effort to create more flexible and responsive networks.

Taking place at BT Labs at Adastral Park, the trials will evaluate the performance of these switches against traditional integrated switching hardware in terms of performance, economics and programmability.

The two partners will examine a range of use cases, including the instant activation of Ethernet circuits for business customers and the delivery of real-time data about the network.

Other use cases include flexing the bandwidth of an Ethernet circuit according to a pre-determined calendar and automatically delivering network telemetry data to third parties.

BT said the advantages of disaggregated switches include the ability to manage them through the Netconf protocol and YANG models, respectively a network standard and a data modelling language that simplify configuration of network devices and elements.

Tom Burns, SVP and GM of Dell EMC Networking, Enterprise Infrastructure & Service Provider Solutions, said: “The service provider network of tomorrow cannot be built on yesterday’s technology.”

Neil McRae, Chief Architect for BT, said the trial would allow the operator to “make informed decisions about the role this kind of solution will play in the dynamic network services of the future”.

He added: “We’re determined to ensure that BT’s network continues to be world-class and able to deliver the services our customers need, when and how they need them. Agility and programmability, maximising the benefits of SDN, are therefore key to our future network evolution.”

Other trials taking place at BT Labs currently include work with the Telecom Infra Project, which is focusing on the application of quantum computing to networks and mission-critical communications.