Overarching Control of Flexi Grid Optical Networks: Interworking of GMPLS and OpenFlow Domains

Optical transport networks provide transport, multiplexing, routing, management, supervision, and survivability of optical channels. Within a flexible dense wavelength division multiplexing grid, the optical spectrum can be allocated in multiples of a width granularity, depending on the client signal rate and modulation format. A control plane (CP) can be used for efficient and dynamic provisioning and recovery of flexi-grid connections. Two main CP architectures coexist, with common functions like addressing, automatic topology discovery, network abstraction, path computation, and connection provisioning: a distributed generalized multiprotocol label switching CP (with optional path computation element, PCE path computation and instantiation/modification) and a CP based on software-defined networking, with a logically centralized controller and an open protocol, such as the OpenFlow protocol.

Both architectures have their own strengths and weaknesses, and are being extended to address the new requirements associated with the aforementioned emerging optical technologies, such as flexible spectrum allocation, efficient corouted connection setup, and configuration of related optical parameters.However, new use cases such as remote data center interconnection highlight the need for multidomain service provisioning, and heterogeneous CP interworking, potentially requiring an overarching control. Different alternatives, with varying degrees of integration and flexibility, are available: straightforward approaches characterized by the adaptation of one control model to the other or more advanced interworking requiring the definition of common models (e.g., a subset of attributes for network elements) and of coordination and orchestration functions. This paper discusses the main relevant interworking architectures and presents a selected set of use cases and proof-of-concepts.