Your new favorite SDN-related forum: OSO

March 12th, 2014 by · Leave a Comment

This article was authored by John C. Tanner, and was originally posted on

ITEM: California-based SDN start-up vendor Vello Systems has launched a new industry forum to encourage adoption of open-source optical solutions in data center and enterprise networks.

The Open Source Optical (OSO) Forum aims to unite 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”, according to a press statement.

The basic idea is to take an “open optical” approach not unlike the current push in the Ethernet space towards merchant silicon and software-defined networking (SDN), the forum said.

What that means is development of software interoperability (based on OpenFlow) among multiple optical products and solutions to help enterprises and data centers avoid vendor lock-in. OSO will provide and maintain community-supported open-source software for merchant-optical systems from current and future OSO members, which can be downloaded from the consortium’s web site (

NetworkWorldAsia reports:

Porting OSO software onto existing optical systems will make them compatible with OpenFlow controller and application frameworks, Vello says. But OSO Forum members may also choose to build native OpenFlow 10G/40G/100G 1RU “pizza box” optical systems or other appliances for data center interconnection and optimizing network paths based on application. […]

OSO-based systems can be deployed and configured directly alongside OpenFlow-based Ethernet switches from a single screen, eliminating the requirement of dedicated optical system configuration management, Vello says.

The OSO Forum is starting small, and with no optical heavy hitters like Ciena, Infinera, Cisco, Coriant or Alcatel-Lucent. Initial members apart from Vello includeAccelinkCoadnaCrossFiberO-netPacketlight and – interestingly – Pacnet. Of that list, only Vello is a member of the Open Networking Foundation (which is developing OpenFlow-based SDN for both data centers and wide-area optical networks). And none are involved in the OpenDaylight project.

That said, the OSO has the blessing of the ONF, whose executive director Dan Pitt said in the release that specific application of OpenFlow-based SDN to optical components and networks “opens up novel opportunities to add connectivity options within and between data centers, improve price-performance, and apply dynamic software control to flexible, application-independent infrastructure.”

OSO also says that while it will focus initially on data center and enterprise solutions – primarily because “data centers are becoming clusters in metro areas and enterprises are running more ultra-high-speed (100Gbps link) networks” – it will eventually expand its work to long-haul optical.

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