Today Infinera announced their participation in the Telecom Infra Project (TIP). The TIP, lead by Facebook, is a consortium of telecom service providers and equipment manufacturers that seeks to open up interoperability between networking infrastructure:
Facebook hopes to create a more simplified network architecture using modular components that combine hardware and software. This would replace the expensive, proprietary gear that underlies telecommunications networks today.
You can read more about the TIP (from a non-technical perspective) here:
I think the timing on Infinera making this announcement was calculated (and shrewd). Here’s why:
First, the TIP means to create a system of open standards and modularity so that the different parts of the telecom ecosystem can be ‘interchanged’ more easily. The three main parts to the ecosystem are access, backhaul and core.
Traditionally these different parts aren’t as easy to integrate as one might think. That is because system houses like Cisco and Erikson have built up their own proprietary mechanism for interoperability. That is not to say system providers don’t have the ability to co-mingle with other vendor solutions. It’s just not a plug and play approach that can work out of the box. Rather, it requires complicated configuration management and field tests, and it becomes a real barrier to having other system vendors participate in your network. This has been long-running obstacle for Infinera when trying to get into established networks.
Infinera has elected to participate in each of the subcommittee projects in the ecosystem (access, backhaul and core). That means Infinera will be involved in developing interoperability standards and design references across the ecosystem. This is of big interest to them. It means they’ll be able to get their gear in more places with less friction, and it will work with their current integration mechanisms. The list of sub-committee projects are located here: https://telecominfraproject.com/project/access-projects/
The deadline to participate in these projects is tomorrow. And if you’re not one of the members developing these standards - their rules will be yours to live by as more telecoms sign up to an open standards process. You can be sure any structural advantage provided by the participating vendors (such as Infinera’s PIC) will work seamlessly with these design standards (read: capacity, speed and instant bandwidth as a differentiator - with no barriers to get it into your network). From the Forbe’s article:
Even those who don’t play along are likely to adopt the principles of modularity and flexibility through software-defined architectures and buying gear from companies that support true interoperability. That’s why vendors like Cisco and others have been leery about the threat of open source switches, Open Flow, and other elements that have been forcing the network world to open up and embrace interoperability between vendors and their gear.
The system vendors participating in defining the new standards are Nokia, Juniper, ADVA Optical and now Infinera. The component vendors in the mix are Lumentum and Acacia. Equinix and Intel are also involved. The full list of participants are located here: https://telecominfraproject.com/members/