Evolving Packet-Optical Transport

On July 14, Light Reading and Heavy Reading will host Packet-Optical Transport Evolution – its first virtual tradeshow dedicated to optical networking. The virtual conference builds on Light Reading's successful live Packet-Optical Transport Evolution conference held in New York in May, and will continue with some of the same themes.

Here's a look at some of the key topics we expect to discuss and debate during the day's sessions and in the virtual networking lounge.

Which connection-oriented Ethernet (COE) flavor is the winner?
This topic will be a hot one, as the landscape of the nascent technology continues to shift and turn. Right now, we see several technologies in various levels of contention for COE leadership, including: IP/MPLS, pseudowires/MPLS, T-MPLS, MPLS-TP, PBB-TE (IEEE 802.1Qay), and VLAN tag switching. Ideally, the industry would settle on a single flavor of COE, but with so many options out there, we don't see that happening. And while some will argue that COE is a two-horse race between PBB-TE and MPLS-TP, we think that even this may be too simplistic a scenario.

We'll discuss and debate these issues and more during our session on "Understanding the Role of Connection-Oriented Ethernet in Packet-Optical Transport."

Where is 100G?
It's coming, and it's putting a squeeze on emerging 40G. Why? There are several reasons. First, 40G took so long to get off the ground that it may have missed its window of opportunity. 100G, which is speeding toward standardization, is a more future-proof option for next-gen transport speeds beyond today's 10G. Second, optical suppliers learned a lot from the mistakes made building 40G. This time around, suppliers are focused on a heavily standardized approach – including MSA form factors and a quasi-standardized modulation format. Many operators like this more collaborative and integrated approach, and believe that such supplier cohesion will lead to lower prices and better price declines in the future.

Still, there are hurdles to clear. For one, products really aren't commercially available yet. Also, standards are still not complete. We'll debate the issues surrounding the future of 100G and give the latest updates on 100G developments during our session on "Strategies for Migrating to 40G & 100GigE."

Optical switching makes a comeback.
Optical switching faded from view for a few years as the industry focused more on transport issues, but switching is now back on center stage, as operators must upgrade their switching infrastructures to deal with the new transport technologies in their networks. Changes are coming to photonic switching (OOO) and electronic switching (OEO) alike. At the photonic layer, we're seeing a resurgence in applications that require photonic crossconnects. However, the newer crossconnects are much smaller than the 1,000-port-count products heralded in 2000. Applications include automated fiber patch panels in busy central offices (such as those running IPTV), automatic protection switching, and wavelength services, among others.

We also see changes needed at the electrical layer, as operators look to move away from Sonet/SDH transport and switching. Here, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standard OTN is emerging as a packet-friendly contender for both transport and switching. We'll delve into all of these topics during our session on "Optical Switching in the Packet World."

Visit the Packet-Optical Transport Evolution virtual tradeshow Website for the full agenda and to register for free. We hope to see you at the show!

— Sterling Perrin, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

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