SDN Traffic Engineering Production Deployment by XL Axiata

Although Carrier SDN adoption is gathering pace, many service providers are still wary of implementing SDN in their production networks. This, in large part, is because they do not wholly trust software to make intelligent routing decisions. After all, a minor mistake is all that it takes to degrade data delivery and business continuity.

But recently, a Packet Design customer, XL Axiata, one of the largest telecommunications service providers in Asia with more than 40 million subscribers, deployed our SDN-TE app in their production network that serves hundreds of customers in the region. Having used the Explorer Suite for a while, they were confident enough in our technology that they deployed the SDN app directly into their production network, skipping a lab trial.

In this blog post we cover the SDN implementation process and, hopefully, will allay some of the fears other network providers have when considering Carrier SDN adoption.

SDN-Traffic Engineering

The Packet Design SDN-TE application leverages our Explorer SDN Platform’s rich telemetry and analytics to automate the difficult and time-consuming task of balancing IP/MPLS network loads. It does this by calculating and provisioning traffic engineered tunnels to shift load from congested links to less heavily used links. The app taps into several services of the Platform, including real-time IGP/BGP routing telemetry, traffic matrices, a policy-based path computation and optimization engine, and an interface to SDN controllers. Like all applications built on the Platform, it accesses these services via open, RESTful APIs.

Traffic Matrices

XL Axiata configured two traffic matrices using the SDN-TE app to monitor their traffic over a few weeks: one was configured for daily 95th percentile utilization and the other was hourly. Our SDN analytics accurately computed the traffic and worst link utilizations for the selected set of routers.

An example Traffic Matrix generated by the SDN-Traffic Engineering app

An example Traffic Matrix generated by the SDN-Traffic Engineering app.

Using the traffic matrices, the SDN-TE app modeled and presented tunnel recommendations without needing to provision any tunnels in the actual network. XL Axiata could review and assess the recommendations and choose whether to provision them – automatically with a mouse click – via an OpenDaylight (ODL) controller.

The SDN-Traffic Engineering app calculates and presents TE tunnel recommendations

The SDN-Traffic Engineering app calculates and presents TE tunnel recommendations


A week before the SDN-TE app deployment, the software versions on the tunnel headend routers and ODL controller were verified for compatibility. A ‘Method of Procedures’ (MOP) document was created with the configurations required to enable PCC (Path Computation Client) on the headend routers. The PCC capability enables software to provision and delegate tunnels on the routers.

Once the MOP document was verified by the customer, a maintenance window was scheduled to go live. On the day of deployment, along with our partners, we were delighted to see the SDN-TE app model the tunnels, present them for approval, make the changes to the routers, and then monitor the resulting network configuration to show an improvement in load distribution.


Perhaps not surprisingly for veterans of network change management, Murphy showed up and we ran into an issue during the deployment. Though our SDN-TE app successfully provisioned the tunnels per its traffic matrices and recommendations, a network equipment vendor bug caused one of the routers to crash. Because of this, the tunnel changes were backed out and the network restored to its original state. XL Axiata is working with the router vendor to find a resolution for the bug. Once a fix is provided, we will be able to roll the SDN-TE app back into the production network.


I hope this illustrates that deploying SDN-Traffic Engineering is not as scary as you might think, even in large service provider networks. To know more about how the Explorer SDN-TE app works, check out this three-minute demo video:

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