IP Management Gains Favor

A small group of software vendors is working to change the way devices send traffic through Sonet/SDH networks. And their efforts could result in cost savings for carriers -- that is, if equipment vendors can handle the change.

Background: For years now, Sonet/SDH networks have been managed with protocols based on Open System Interconnection (OSI), a suite of internetworking protocols originally developed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Sonet/SDH devices, such as ADMs, use a data communications channel (DCC) carried in the Sonet signal to send information to management and provisioning systems. These DCCs are part of a larger DCN (data communications network) that links the devices with the operations support systems in the carrier's network. This DCN setup lets operators access all Sonet network elements through a single connection into the network, one that allows for remote provisioning and centralized maintenance.

IP network devices, like routers, aren't based on these OSI protocols; instead, they use packet-oriented routing and management protocols established by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Each router or other IP-based device is managed via an IP-based control plane.

As IP plays an increasingly important role in carrier networks, particularly in metro networks where IP is used within or alongside Sonet/SDH rings, it's getting to be problematic to manage everything in a unified way. According to Chris Murton, founder and director of Murton Consultancy & Design Ltd., which specializes in helping carriers set up metro networks, the discrepancy is a cost factor for carriers, who'd like to start moving everything over to an IP-based management approach that doesn't require as much know-how to maintain as OSI does.

Murton says a suite of ITU protocols called G.7712 holds an answer. G.7712 defines a method of encapsulating OSI in IP and routing that information through a DCN. Over time, as IP devices proliferate, the OSI-based DCC can be removed altogether. But meanwhile, G.7712 provides an automated way to put OSI and IP management together, Murton maintains.

Murton says several vendors are at work on G.7712 code: Atos Origin, based in France, and Vertel Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTL), for example, presently offer software for OEMing by equipment vendors that purports to solve the OSI-to-IP management problem.

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is also said to be at work on G.7712 software. But at press time, the vendor hadn't responded to inquiries about the status of its developments.

Vertel's VP of Asia/Pacific sales and operations, Koert Blom, says the market for this kind of software is just starting to form. "But I think by the middle of next year it will be mandatory," he says. Vertel is selling code to a range of equipment providers and has even conducted interoperability tests among its customers, but Blom can't identify who Vertel's worked with.

Using IP in Sonet/SDH management DCCs, the way G.7712 does, is a mixed blessing, according to Scott Clavenna, chief analyst at Heavy Reading, the market research division of Light Reading. "An IP-based DCC does a better job of supporting end-to-end management and provisioning," he says. But the problem is that the approach calls for a routing engine to be placed inside each network element, one that supports G.7712 or another form of OSI-to-IP conversion or encapsulation.

This can make for a "buggy" DCN, since each Sonet box in the network is also a router, and that can make for plenty of hiccups when routing tables aren't updated properly or nodes are added or taken out of service.

While vendors sort out the issues, carriers continue to face the cost of overlaying IP and its management over Sonet/SDH networks. The issues could take a long time to hammer out. In the meantime, the few suppliers presently working on the problem are surely apt to increase in number.

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading

To examine an executive summary of the Heavy Reading Report – "The Future of Sonet/SDH" – click here. The full report is available for $3,950.
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paulfee 12/4/2012 | 11:12:50 PM
re: IP Management Gains Favor Hello all,

I've been working with Vertel on their stack development programme, upgrading it for compliance with G.7712.

Work is progressing well and we've already acheived interoperability with another major vendor.

The European contact for Vertel software is Anton van der Burgt in Holland.

avdburgt 12/4/2012 | 11:12:51 PM
re: IP Management Gains Favor John,

I think you are hitting the nail on the head!

The vendors who have thought it through carefully, will do precisely that.

And, btw.. ofcourse the Vertel's product is capable of doing integrated IS-IS in the way you suggested.

avdburgt 12/4/2012 | 11:12:51 PM
re: IP Management Gains Favor The worlds best G.7712 solutions are delivered on the most widely implemented Embedded Telecom Stack, from Vertel!!
In case anybody doubts, please contact me, or Koert Blom ([email protected]) or contact us via our website: www.vertel.com

Anton van der Burgt
320755 12/4/2012 | 11:12:52 PM
re: IP Management Gains Favor I would like to add to Phil's point about whether to use OSPF or Integrated IS-IS.

For those equipment vendors currently designing equipment that will need to connect to a SONET or SDH network, I think the choice is easy. Build your initial capability to deliver your IP DCN using Integrated IS-IS. That way, if you need to upgrade to G7712 in the future you will have an easy migration.

John Russell
bvdm 12/4/2012 | 11:13:23 PM
re: IP Management Gains Favor Just to complete what is listed in the article,
for Atos Origin, the products are the MARBEN ones

sudhakar 12/4/2012 | 11:13:28 PM
re: IP Management Gains Favor hi
its nice explanation .

from sudhakar
Bluebeam 12/4/2012 | 11:13:28 PM
re: IP Management Gains Favor In this article, we list:

- Atos Origin
- Vertel Corp.

Vertel? Aren't they dead?

christi 12/4/2012 | 11:13:31 PM
re: IP Management Gains Favor In order to be compliant with G.7712 an adm MUST support IP routing using Integrated IS-IS as per RFC 1195, 3373 and 2966. It may also support other routing protocols, but it MUST support Integrated IS-IS.

If the ADM supports OSI over IP then it MUST be as per RFC 2784.

If the ADM supports IP over OSI then it MUST be as per RFC 3147.

These are the RFCs that a vendor needs to follow in order to produce a G.7712 complaint ADM.

I suspect that many vendors will attempt to sell an ADM with only OSPF routing on it and claim that it is G.7712 compliant, however it would be a false claim. Buyer beware.
beltway_light 12/4/2012 | 11:13:32 PM
re: IP Management Gains Favor
what is the relation of the below sited RFCs
to do with tis subject? like the OSPF does not
need 3way hellos?

The RFCs mentioned are available from the IETF,
the URLs are:-
Peter Heywood 12/4/2012 | 11:13:33 PM
re: IP Management Gains Favor No need to wait for an awareness survey. Why not start a list here of vendors working on G.7712 developments?

In this article, we list:

- Atos Origin
- Vertel Corp.
- Cisco (possibly)

If you know other vendors in this market, please post a message to tell the world about them.

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