The advent of Software Defined Networking (SDN) is becoming strategically critical for telecom/datacom and information/cloud Service Providers worldwide. Discussion and writing on the application of SDN in MSO networks have been limited to specific parts of the network. SDN leverages a control plane model with open programmable interfaces to enable the agile and dynamic creation of new services and the orchestrated allocation of network resources. Through this, and by bridging the SDN architectures and solutions between broadband access, hub/headend sites, metro and backbone transport, MSOs will fully leverage SDN principles and their end-end networks. Further, SDN can address the following challenges faced by many MSOs:
We first present an MSO future network vision with key building blocks cemented by an end-to-end SDN architecture. We propose a multi-layer end-end SDN architecture that can be achieved by implementing an SDN controlled broadband access network and extending SDN to the metro and backbone network with integrated IP/optical transport. We argue for the importance of convergence in both the broadband access and transport network, the metro portion of the MSO network, and the criticality of an SDN-based IP/Optical transport integration. Convergence and integration, which are greatly aided by network virtualization through SDN/NFV, can provide MSOs with an agile, hyper-scalable and cost-effective network fabric to enable automated management, control and optimization of network resources, and the dynamic provisioning of all revenue-generating services. The roles and functions of SDN in broadband access and metro/backbone, as well as the cost benefit of IP/optical integration – in particular, multi-layer protection, will be presented in the remainder of this paper. We conclude by presenting end-to-end SDN based service orchestration that can greatly benefit MSOs in future service delivery.