Integrating advanced optical hardware and SDN for future all optical DCNs

Main Objectives

The scale and complexity of modern data centres have grown tremendously, increasing the costs of infrastructure equipment, management, and operations.

It is therefore critical to revisit the data centre network architecture and develop appropriate network technologies so that future data centres achieve the required large scale at low cost, as well as enabling multi-tenancy services, flexibility, ease of management and operations.

Current technologies are not able to support the scaling of DC networks. In particular today’s DCN hardware solutions lead to architectures that impose unsustainable overheads in terms of capacity, connectivity and energy consumption requirements. Radically new hardware technologies need to be developed, coupled with new frameworks for DCN control and service orchestration in order to enable future-proof DCN architectures.

The COSIGN consortium brings together a unique combination of expertise and resources to deliver novel scalable and future-proof intra-data centre network solutions empowered by advanced optical technologies and a software defined control framework, which will overcome existing and predicted bottlenecks of current architectural solutions.

The project will leverage on proper integration of advanced optical hardware and Software Defined Networking technologies for improving performance, scale, and management of network and IT resources towards streamlining the processes of deploying and operating the contemporary dynamic, multi-tenant, and resource-savvy workloads.

Technical Approach

The data centre transformation envisioned by the COSIGN consortium comprises disruptive changes in the data plane infrastructure, significant advances to the control plane and virtualization approaches, and major innovations in network resources management as a part of overall data centre orchestration. More in detail:

  1. In the Data Centre Network (DCN) Data Plane, the COSIGN project aims to achieve a fully optical interconnection path from server to server within racks and between racks, and will address the following building blocks:
    • Large and scalable top-of-the-rack (TOR) optical switches.
    • Scalable, ultra-high capacity and ultra-low latency interconnects
    • High spatial dimensioning to support large port density as well as scalability of the architecture utilizing new data-com fibre technologies such as multicore fibres.
  2. In the DC Control and Management, COSIGN will build upon the Software Defined Networks (SDN) paradigm. COSIGN will extend the SDN capabilities to leverage the added value of emerging optical technologies. In addition, converged network and IT virtualization capabilities for data centres will be provided.
  3. In the DC Infrastructure Virtualization and Orchestration, COSIGN will implement the concept of ‘DC Infrastructure as a Service’ by implementing the required mechanisms for composition and operation of multiple isolated and concurrent virtual DCs sharing same DC infrastructure.

Key Issues

The COSIGN vision is to move away from today’s highly hierarchical, vendor specific, manually controlled, and limited in terms of performance and scale data centre solutions and operations towards flat and scalable, automatic, and optimized Data Centre (DC) infrastructures of tomorrow.

As shown in the figure below, COSIGN will propose a new data centre architecture and demonstrate technological solutions capable of sustaining the growing resource and operational demands of next generation data centres, and will provide a realistic roadmap for technology evolution and adoption by European and worldwide stakeholders, including partners and customers of the consortium members.

DCN Evolution

Expected Impact

    COSIGN will enable new business models for service providers, DC operators, content providers and appliance manufacturers to deliver sustainable innovative cloud services to citizens at home and elsewhere.
  • COSIGN will strengthen the influence of European industry on the definitions of the next-generation data centres.
  • COSIGN is a powerful enabler for industrial innovation. As such it seeks to design and develop scalable, efficient, cost-effective, programmable, open multi-technology intra-DC networks.
  • COSIGN will, with its application of SDN and flexible optical network technologies in DCs, unlock the closed and stiff nature of optical networking systems currently deployed there.
  • COSIGN has a consortium that is constructed to include partners with both market impact and solid strategies at the relevant standardization bodies.