The goal of LIGHTNESS is to define an advanced and scalable DCN architecture for ultra-high bandwidth, dynamic and on-demand network connectivity, and future intra data centre applications and services delivery.

LIGHTNESS will design and realize a prototype of scalable and ultra-high capacity and connectivity transport networks for intra data centre scenarios (intra-DC), based on a new OPS/OCS fabric coupled to a unified control plane that allow for replacing the traditional tiered networks with a flat fabric that interconnects edge node interfaces with high bandwidth, low latency network irrespective of the node location, consuming much lower energy. The hybrid Optical Packet/Circuit switching paradigm in the data plane will provide a scalable, flexible and ultra-high capacity transport network. On one hand, OCS behaves very efficiently when supporting long-lived smooth data flows, for which QoS guarantees are ensured. On the other hand, OPS leverages on the statistical multiplexing of optical resources to achieve highly flexible transport services with very low end-to-end latencies. The LIGHTNESS project proposes the integration of both OCS and OPS optical switching technologies in the intra-DC network environments. The rationale behind this solution is to take advantage of both OCS and OPS switching solutions to fulfil the requirements of emerging applications running in data centres in terms of ultra-high bandwidth and low network latency.

LIGHTNESS will design and prototype a new OPS node architecture with highly distributed control in which the switch configuration time is port-count independent. This will allow for realizing an OPS node with nanosecond scale latency and high throughput for high loads, while scaling to port count larger than 1000, with each port operating at 100 Gb/s and beyond. Such optical switch should be able to interconnect a new top of the racks (TOR) switch prototype that supports operation at 100 Gb/s and beyond. The TOR will interface the servers to the hybrid OPS/OCS DCN by efficiently aggregating and mapping the traffic in both long-lived data flows and short lived packet flows.

The LIGHTNESS project will also deploy a unified network control plane on top of the DCN that offers to the data centre management dynamic and flexible procedures to provision and re-configure the DCN resources. Additional control plane capabilities will include energy aware resource allocation aiming to decrease data centre OPEX and resilience support (i.e., protection of critical application workload flows and data plane failure restoration). Moreover, the unified network control plane will offer a flexible Cloud-to-Network interface to allow the data centre management request for such dynamic and connectivity service, according to the application requirements.