BT & Dell EMC Trial Disaggregated Switching Tech In SDN Push


BT and Dell EMC to see how next generation, programmable switching technology can catalyse the arrival of smart networking services.

BT is working to Dell EMC to see how disaggregated switching technology could maximise the benefits of software defined networks (SDN) for both telcos and their customers. 

Disaggregated switches use open network switching technology commonly found in data centres and commercially available or open source switching software. This makes them far more flexible than traditional integrated switches which can’t be programmed. 

Telecoms operators are particularly interested in SDN because they can roll out network updates or new services much quicker than on conventional network architecture.  

Adastral Park, in Martlesham, Ipswich - the epicentre of BT's research, technology and IT operations. Enquiries about this image can be made to the BT Group Newsroom on its 24-hour number: 020 7356 5369.  From outside the UK, dial +44 20 7356.5369.  News releases and images can be accessed at the BT web site: Mandatory credit: VisMedia


By virtualising network architecture and making ‘dumb’ pipes smart, it is possible to gain greater visibility over network traffic so it can be more intelligently managed and gain more information about customers.  

This in turn can make it more efficient and cheaper to roll out updates, identifty faults and release new services, which can generate more revenue. Two potential applications BT hopes SDN will enable are the instant activation of Ethernet circuits and the ability to automatically flex bandwidth based on a pre-determined schedule, an application known as ‘bandwidth calendaring’. 

The two firms hope trials at BT’s Adastral Park R&D facility in Suffolk will explore the performance, economics and programmability of the new technology.  

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“This proof-of-concept trial with Dell EMC will enable us to evaluate the performance of disaggregated switches against traditional integrated network switches, and make informed decisions about the role this kind of solution will play in the dynamic network services of the future,” declared Neil J MacRae, chief architect at BT.  

“We’re determined to ensure that BT’s network continues to be world-class and able to deliver the services our customers need, when and how they need them. Agility and programmability, maximising the benefits of SDN, are therefore key to our future network evolution.” 

“The service provider network of tomorrow cannot be built on yesterday’s technology,” said Tom Burns,head of Dell EMC’s Networking, Enterprise Infrastructure & Service Provider division.

“We’re energised and focused on collaborating with BT to drive innovation and help achieve their goals of enhancing network agility, flexibility and programmability to provide the high level of service their customers expect.” 

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