• Technical Conference:  24 – 28 March 2024
  • Exhibition: 26 – 28 March 2024
  • San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, California, USA

Virtualization in Optical Networks: A Reality Check

Monday, 06 March, 08:00 – 10:00

Room 6C


Over the last few years, telecom operators have consolidated the strategy for achieving cost-effective and flexible vendor-neutral open solutions by disaggregating the optical transport infrastructures. This will permit telecom operators to face the continuous growth of traffic while keeping a similar network cost (e.g., eliminating vendor lock-in). A key enabler to that is the virtualization concept applied in a broad sense to embrace both the control/management and data plane.

The complexity for managing and controlling open and disaggregated networks notably increases since multiple providers at the system and component level will come into play. Thus, it is needed to rely on vendor-neutral control solutions (e.g., ONF Open disaggregated transport networks -ODTN) where open and standard APIs enables the SDN controllers configuring multi-vendor network nodes. With respect to the SDN control architectures, an emerging solution revolves around the cloud-native (micro-services) technology with the aim to overcome the classic monolithic implementations towards a more agile, flexible, and scalable controllers (e.g., µONOS).

At the data plane, the disaggregation helps eliminating the vendor lock-in where an interesting step on this strategy is the evolution towards open packet and optical white boxes (e.g., Open Optical & Packet Transport -OOPT- project within the Telecom Infra Project, TIP). White boxes decouple the providers of both hardware, based on COTS and open components, from the software, i.e., Network Operating System (e.g., SONiC, Stratum, …). This is enabled by open interfaces with the aim to accelerate the innovation, reduce cost, and increase the flexibility within disaggregated transport networks. 

This panel aims at stimulating a debate over whether the expectations behind the virtualization have been fulfilled in the metro and core optical transports. Moreover, it will be discussed which are the challenges to be overcome to make the virtualization a “reality” from both control and data plane perspectives.

Panel details:
The panel is expected to last 2 h (5-6 speakers are expected with 10-15 minute). Speakers from academia, system vendors, telecom operators, and service providers will share their views on the current challenges faced by deploying and operating virtualized optical network infrastructure. In addition, they will address the tradeoffs at play, identify the sweet spots of the virtualization vision, and describe the best practices that should be in place.

The panel will consist of two parts, one more related to the disaggregated / white box data plane aspects and one targeting more service and network control aspects. Finally, the panel will end with a panel discussion where the invited speakers and the audience will discuss the issues highlighted during the various talks.


Jamie Gaudette, Microsoft, USA

Ricardo Martinez, Catalan Telecommunication Technology Centre (CTTC), Spain

Annachiara Pagano, Telecom Italia, Italy


Filippo Cugini, CNIT, Italy

Oscar González de Dios, Telefonica, Spain

Darren Loher, Google, USA

Priyanth Mehta, Ciena, USA

Emilio Riccardi, Telecom Italia, Italy