& cplSiteName &

Accelerating Packet-Optical Convergence

Sterling Perrin

In March, a group of leading network operators, led by Telefónica, published a white paper entitled "IP and Optical Convergence: Use Cases and Technical Requirements." The objective of this paper, as the authors write, was to outline the benefits, enablers, and challenges for IP and optical convergence, and the rationale for encouraging international collaboration to accelerate progress and development in this area.

In addition to Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), other contributing companies were: AXTEL Mexico; Bouygues Telecom; BT Group; China Unicom; Colt Telecom; Deutsche Telekom; KDDI; KT Corp. (Korea Telecom); Orange; and Telecom Italia.

The operator group assessed the value of a number of different IP and optical use cases. This blog focuses on multi-layer management, multi-layer planning, and multi-layer resilience, which garnered the most interest among the operator group -- and by a large margin.

The white paper looks at multi-layer resilience and focuses on an IP and optical layer resilience scheme that uses fast reroute (FRR) at the IP layer and GMPLS at the optical layer. The multi-layer network reduces operator capex by eliminating some of the requirements for 1+1 protection in the network. With traditional 1+1 protection, 50% of network capacity is reserved for backup in case a failure occurs, but a multi-layer control plane can be built to use 1:1 protection only when necessary.

While this paper does not provide multi-layer resilience savings statistics, DT research work published in 2012 demonstrated capex savings of 24-27% using a combination of IP layer and photonic layer restoration when compared to traditional network architectures implying IP layer restoration with full 1+1 protection. We have also seen equipment vendors cite even higher capex savings potential for this application.

Looking at multi-layer planning and management, a full integration of IP and optical layers can lead to better network manageability, but the complexity of full interaction (today, at least) requires a single vendor proprietary implementation. On the plus side, a proprietary integrated approach can speed up and simplify provisioning, fault management, and network planning. On the negative side, buying IP and optical layer equipment from a single vendor creates "dependencies that constrain network evolutions," according to the white paper. "Additionally, it brings a significant risk of increasing part of the OPEX, through the different upgrades and associated release qualifications since IP routers implies a high number of release updates," when compared with pure transport equipment releases.

The operators conclude that, in the case of proprietary, fully-integrated IP and optical management systems, the negatives outweigh the potential positives. The authors recommend that the industry begins working on open standards to achieve converged network management systems. This conclusion is very consistent with Heavy Reading 's findings from surveys and operator interviews during the past 18 months.

However, we continue to get pushback on this issue from various equipment vendors. A consistent counter argument we are hearing from suppliers is that, in the absence of full standards, operators will need to make proprietary decisions or lose out on the benefits of multi-layer integration completely. Granted, vendors have a strong incentive to preserve the status quo, but there is also a legitimate point being made here. With no clear cut path to standardization, how long will operators wait for multi-vendor interoperability to emerge?

— Sterling Perrin, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/23/2014 | 11:55:13 AM
Re: Restoration
I think 25-30% cost savings are completely realistic in a scenario where you are just account for long-haul fiber span failures.  
User Rank: Lightning
5/23/2014 | 9:13:35 AM
Re: Restoration

Good points. As this project was entirely operator driven, it doesn't seem like there is a big incentive to make the applications appear more beneficial than they really are. The DT work I cite in my blog puts the capex savings at 24-27%, which is relatively modest compared to the 50-60% capex savings that I've seen cited in several vendor studies looking at the same application.

I'm not sure, but it's possible that the DT work takes into consideration the Internet traffic factors you've mentioned in your post. 


User Rank: Lightning
5/23/2014 | 9:04:42 AM
Full White Paper Link
For anyone interested in downloading the full operator white paper (25 pages), it can be found here:



User Rank: Light Sabre
5/22/2014 | 3:23:27 PM
You have to really investigate the cost savings associated with photonic restoration.  The reality is no one uses 1+1 optical protection and builds L3 backup capacity for "Internet" IP traffic, which makes up the bulk of traffic today.   So right there you can toss out a large percentage of the cost savings because people like to tout both being implemented in networks.  The real cost savings is in not carrying as much backup L3 capacity for Internet traffic.  If you've seen slides from vendors and operators, the paradigm of "protecting" Internet traffic is going out the window and sustaining a 2-5s outage while a link goes down and comes back up is now acceptable.

By default none of this helps you in terms of equipment failure since it assumes the majority of failures are fiber cuts, which is accurate. If a L3 port goes down, you lose the capacity.  

The landscape right now is having an orchestration system/controller which can view and manage both packet and optical domains, and forcing vendors to implement open standards for programmability.  GMPLS has been going on for 15 years now, nothing has ever come from it in terms of marrying packet and optical.  

Vendors also aren't really putting packet interfaces in transport gear or OTN/DWDM interfaces in routers either.  The density and flexibility is pretty terrible for 100G in both directions.   IMHO the real opportunity is improving the interconnect between boxes with things like MacFlex so you aren't wasting either packet or optical resources.  So if I need 40G between two sites and 320G between two sites, I'm not wasting 100G and 400G to do so.  I'm using a flexible Ethernet MAC layer and then a flexible OTN container.   

More Blogs from Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Fixed wireless broadband is the flavor of the month &ndash again &ndash but with a number of not-insignificant number of hurdles still to be overcome.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is building excitement, but still finding some barriers hard to overcome – specifically the need for very low-cost, power-frugal and ubiquitous networking. Enter low-power, wide-area (LPWA) networking, making powerful and inexpensive long-range networks for the IoT a reality.
AT&T and Amazon Web Services have planted flags in the ground that will shape the new landscape of collaborative partnerships for many years to come.
Huawei CEO Eric Xu finds inspiration in an unlikely place -- Harley-Davidson's drive to transform itself into a digital enterprise for the 21st century.
The ability to holistically analyze, in real time, any network data impacting customer experience is one reason why big data and analytics (BDA) will become a key network element in the near future.
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
Friday, October 21, 1:00PM EDT
Security: Evolving the Data Center
Rasool Kareem Irfan, Head, Telecom & Infrastructure Security Practice, Tata Communications Transformation Services Ltd (TCTS)
Wednesday, October 26, 1:00PM EDT
Security: Tackling DDoS
Gary Sockrider, Principal Security Technologist, Arbor Networks
Friday, October 28, 1:00PM EDT
Security: The Plusses and Minuses of Open Source Software
Nick Feamster, Acting Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
Wednesday, November 16, 1:00PM EST
SDN 101
John Isch, Practice Director, Network & Voice, Orange Business Services
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation Technology Beyond DOCSIS 3.1

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Liu Jianhua speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Hybrid Video Solutions to Change TV, Change Future

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Ian Locke speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Future-Oriented Giga Coax Network

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Allen Wang speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei at SCTE 2016

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and take a sneak peek at the Huawei booth at SCTE 2016.
LRTV Custom TV
Assuring Network Quality in a Rapidly Changing Environment

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

As the rate of change and complexity increases in agile networks, the importance of introducing DevOps methodologies for integrating active test and assurance solutions throughout the full service lifecycle becomes critical to ensure that customers are experiencing the service quality they demand. The industry landscape is changing, and software-based test and ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
A10 Networks on Service Providers' Industry Needs

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders hears how A10 enables service providers to accelerate, secure and optimize their application delivery to drive down costs, enhance service availability, and better respond to customer requirements, so they can improve customer satisfaction, monetize their network, and grow revenues.
LRTV Custom TV
New NFV Use Cases for Cable TV

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

A large number of NFV use cases are focused on the enterprise domain, looking at virtualization of customer-premises equipment (CPE). To date, there has been little focus on the use cases and business case for virtualization of the video content delivery networks required to deliver unicast and streaming video to consumers. Amdocs commissioned Analysys Mason to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Meet the Future Workforce: New Faces, Expectations & Motivations

10|19|16   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

Millennials and their younger peers, Gen Z, expect more out of their network and more out of their work. Intel's Lynn Comp shares how the industry can prepare for this new generation of workers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Global Services User Congress 2016 Highlights

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

ZTE held its 2nd Global Service User Conference in Dusseldorf on October 13-14. Representatives from network operators, leading industry analysts and ZTE senior expertsattended the event, exploring the best practice in managed services and the vision to transform network operations into the operations center of the future (OpCF) in the software-defined networking ...
LRTV Custom TV
Cliff Grossner on Cloud & Network Synergy From Carrier Service

10|18|16   |     |   (0) comments

Local carriers offer the collaborated cloud and network service that benefits from their understanding of the regulations operating in different vertical markets.
In this interview, Cliff Grossner from IHS Technology talks about how this advanced service can support business agility and flexibility.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live from SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Cyrille Morelle, VeEX's President and CEO, talks with Light Reading's Alan Breznick live from the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016. They discuss DOCSIS 3.1 technology, deployments and early lessons learned. New products on display include the CX350s-D3.1, CX380s-D3.1, CX310, AT2500-3G, FX150 OTDR and MTT WiFI Air Expert.
LRTV Custom TV
Smith Micro's Carrier-Grade WiFi Component

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Carol Wilson of Light Reading as she interviews the CTO of Smith Micro, Dave Sperling.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Verizon Wants More Data on Yahoo Breach
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/20/2016
US Issues Total Flight Ban on Samsung Note 7
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/15/2016
Oh Snap! Qualcomm Unveils X50, Its First 5G Modem
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/17/2016
Amazon Exploring Future as an ISP – Report
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/19/2016
Telecom Italia Plots Digital 'Overlay,' Not Transformation
Iain Morris, News Editor, 10/17/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.