& cplSiteName &

Transport SDN's Time Has Come

Danny Dicks
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Danny Dicks

The optical systems market has been shaken up in the past couple of years by the emergence of programmable optical modules using digital signal processors (DSPs) capable of utilising multiple modulation schemes to deliver flexible combinations of reach and capacity.

These DSPs are being adopted because they enable the more expensive optical modules and radio frequency (RF) components to be reused more cost-effectively -- the DSP is a relatively cheaper component of the complete line card.

While the approach has largely been used for shorter spans in the metro market, the principles of programmability of optical line cards apply more widely, and the industry is looking ahead to a time -- not long away -- when programmability is a basic feature of coherent systems across most applications. As operators converge their fixed and mobile access networks, and cloudify their radio access networks (RANs), such programmability will be a useful way to support multiple services flexibly and dynamically, and there is no reason why the programmable DSPs cannot be deployed in systems for long-haul applications too -- as the speed of the electronics increases, FEC algorithms improve and systems become more capable of delivering capacity over longer distances.

But there is an issue to be dealt with before this can happen: It's all very well having flexibility and programmability at the level of the line card, and it's quite another thing to match this in the management of traditionally static optical networks to enable the most efficient use of optical assets. It requires the orchestration and software-defined networking (SDN) approaches that have been making an impact in other areas of carriers' network operations to extend to the optical transport network -- both in terms of processes and management systems.

Some vendors are responding to this with the introduction of new management systems that provide the greater visibility into what is happening in the optical network that will be needed to enable more dynamic and automated management. Ciena's Liquid Spectrum approach, introduced in March 2017, encompasses a management system (Blue Planet MCP) and software applications that promise real-time visibility into network performance, easier wavelength provisioning and greater automation -- for instance, for path restoration. It also has open application programming interfaces (APIs) and standard data models.

In a similar vein, Coriant's Aware system, demonstrated in March 2017, pulls optical performance data from the network -- including from coherent receivers -- and analyses it in real time with its Margin Processing Engine to assess the residual margin (a signal quality parameter) per channel, enabling faster and simpler wavelength provisioning. I expect to see other vendors revamping their management systems along similar lines over the next few months.

The Heavy Reading report Telco Optical Systems Beyond 100G, looks at how demand for optical transport has changed, how coherent optics is evolving and what the future holds for this established but dynamic technology. It examines advances in electronics that are pushing speeds faster, as well as the consequences for the standard optical grid spacing.

Further, it looks at standardisation efforts, including those led from the demand-side of the market, and compares the approaches and portfolios of 11 vendors of telco-focused optical systems.

— Danny Dicks, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
More Blogs from Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Cable is moving in on the wireless market, with many exciting opportunities opening up across the board, including in WiFi, mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) and 5G.
On July 27, Nick Read will become Vodafone Group CEO designate before assuming the role of Group CEO on October 1. What can we expect from the operator's current CFO once he's in the hot seat?
More than half the communications services providers surveyed for this report expect to have 5G backhaul ready by 2020, even though they still do not know which vendors they plan to use for this step.
Mobile operators may find that all their investments in VoLTE and RCS are for naught as OTT providers win and they are left monetizing the data pipe.
ETSI's wonderfully named Experiential Networked Intelligence (ENI) group, which aims to help operators better understand and improve the management of their networks, has sprung to life.
Featured Video
From The Founder
John Chambers is still as passionate about business and innovation as he ever was at Cisco, finds Steve Saunders.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
September 12, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 6, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 7-8, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Telecom Jargonosaurus Part 1: Repeat Offenders
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/13/2018
AT&T's Stankey Serves Up a Stinker at HBO
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/10/2018
Broadcom Buys CA – Huh?
Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading, 7/11/2018
FCC's Rosenworcel: US 'Falling Behind' on 5G
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/13/2018
Verizon Taps Malady as Acting CTO
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 7/12/2018
Animals with Phones
Who Shrunk the Tech Support?! Click Here
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed