The soaring traffic demands in datacenter networks (DCNs) are outpacing progresses in CMOS technology, challenging the bandwidth and energy scalability of currently established technologies. Optical switching is gaining traction as a promising path for sustaining the explosive growth of DCNs; however, its practical deployment necessitates extensive modifications to the network architecture and operation, tailored to the technological particularities of optical switches (i.e. no buffering, limitations in radix size and speed). European project NEPHELE is developing an optical network infrastructure that leverages optical switching within a software-defined networking (SDN) framework to overcome the bandwidth and energy scaling challenges of datacenter networks. An experimental validation of the NEPHELE data plane is reported based on commercial off-the-shelf optical components controlled by FPGA boards. To facilitate dynamic allocation of the network resources and perform collision-free routing in a lossless network environment, slotted operation is employed (i.e. using time-division multiple-access - TDMA). Error-free operation of the NEPHELE data plane is verified for 200 μs slots in various scenarios that involve communication between Ethernet hosts connected to custom-designed top-of-rack (ToR) switches, located in the same or in different datacenter pods. Control of the slotted data plane is obtained through an SDN framework comprising an OpenDaylight controller with appropriate add-ons. Communication between servers in the optical-ToR is demonstrated with various routing scenarios, concerning communication between hosts located in the same rack or in different racks, within the same or different datacenter pods. Error-free operation is confirmed for all evaluated scenarios, underpinning the feasibility of the NEPHELE architecture.