Telia Carrier's successful test of the Voyager white box transponder-router on its fiber optic network between Stockholm and Hamburg is proof that an open multivendor optical networking approach can work, but also an indication that network operators will need to develop their own expertise in this area, says a company executive. (See ADVA Adds Direct Detect Open Optical Layer for DCI.)
Mattias Fridström, chief evangelist, Telia Carrier , tells Light Reading in an interview that the early March trial of 100Gbit/s and 200Gbit/s transmissions, done in conjunction with Facebook and Coriant, worked "fantastically well" in a matter of days. Its success makes his company much more likely to pursue other opportunities to mix and match vendors of disaggregated optical systems, he adds, but that will mean having internal optical networking expertise to truly take advantage of the flexibility this approach could offer.
"This really told us that we need to have a handful of really skilled optical people on our side, to be able to participate when things are not going perfect, [draw] our own conclusions and think about what is best for our network," Fridström says.
Today's optical networking gear combines the line side and transponders in a single package which vendors install and support. For this trial, Voyager, a white box transponder and routing solution developed by Facebook and contributed to the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), was combined with Coriant networking software, to enable the test of 100G and 200G transmissions over a live network that was carrying Telia Carrier customer traffic between Stockholm and Hamburg. Coriant is one of two vendors -- ADVA Optical Networking being the other -- who have announced commercial support for Voyager.
Telia Carrier got the Voyager box a week ahead of time, Fridström says, and powered it up in the lab to check to see the system worked before moving the equipment to its live network and starting the trial. All three companies engaged in the trial "pitched in a lot of resources and a lot of brains and we together developed and set up the test schedules and did it to get it to work" rather quickly, he notes. For all three, "it was a very big success, very cool and very smooth."
That gives Telia Carrier confidence to try this on a broader scale, mixing and matching line systems and transponders, to use the best of what's available -- or what's cheapest -- at a given moment, he says. Interestingly, that doesn't necessarily mean a faster response to bandwidth demands, as some might expect.
"We have worked with our underlying vendors to have really short delivery times with them already," Fridström says. But there are always periods when one vendor's software release may be delayed or hit bumps in the road while another one zooms ahead. "This gives us the opportunity to always have the best equipment in the network, so from that point of view it is a good thing. If someone else comes up with a new speed or a new feature or something, then we won't be as afraid of testing that and using that. So in the end, it will benefit customers and everything and we will be more flexible."
Being able to do that mixing and matching of vendors is what will require the internal optical networking expertise, the Telia Carrier exec says. The company won't be able to count on a vendor to handle the integration of a competitor's equipment -- although upper management may need to be convinced of that reality, he admits.
"If we are going to work with vendors at the same time, we can't be in the hands of all of them, we need to have some people on our side that understand this as well," he says.
The payoff will be the ability to ask the right questions, think about the right scenarios and can invest more efficiently and effectively, Fridström adds.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
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