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    Life after 100G

    September 5, 2014 2:30 PM by Earl Kennedy, Alcatel-Lucent

    It’s hard to believe we’re talking about it already: The end of the 100G era. But skyrocketing bandwidth demand means many operators are already pondering what’s next. With 200G optical hitting the market, you probably have questions about when to make the move to this next phase – and what you’ll need to know when you get there.

    The move to metro creates demand
    If you are like most optical network operators, you are looking to move content closer to your end users. Dramatically shifting traffic from the optical core to the metro network is a good option to meet the relentless bandwidth demand growth highlighted in the figure below and relieve some of the pressure on your network. However, while this approach is practical, it will have consequences.



    For example, suddenly the question isn’t whether the market will go beyond 100G, but how soon. The 100G networks that were practically unimaginable four years ago already appear to have a finite shelf life.

    Beyond 100G: What’s next
    Now that 200G is commercially available and deployed by some operators, it’s a viable option to consider to support your metro evolution strategy. It gives you an immediate doubling in capacity, so it can accommodate demand when and as you need it. But beyond the cost-efficiency necessary to support return on your investment, what are some of the other key ingredients that a 200G deployment requires? Think “SAS”: Scalable, agile and SDN-ready.

    Scalable: Metro networks are forecasted to grow 560% in total traffic by the end of 2017. To meet that demand, any network technology deployed today will have to be scalable. In fact, the ability of a network to scale and aggregate wavelengths from 10G to 100G to 200G and beyond should be considered fundamental.

    Networks must meet the demand for dynamic services economically at potentially terabit scales and at multiple layers to deliver a broad set of services at the most economical layer. A flexible “metro core” architecture that supports network convergence with minimal impact to service operations and organizations therefore is a vital part of moving scalable metro networks forward. The right scalable approach also will provide investment protection with the ability to double network capacity when you need it without incurring the upfront cost of buying twice the capacity you require today.

    Agile: Like most network operators, you’re likely looking to optimize IP and optical networking equipment to reduce layers and complexity. The move to 200G and beyond offers you the opportunity to collapse multiple networks into a single dynamic and reconfigurable multiservice, multilayer infrastructure that is efficient and agile. This will allow you to support rapid delivery of high-performance, on-demand, application-driven network services.

    The optimal network approach supports multi-technology, multiservice architectures that serve as a single platform for applications such as business wholesale, mobile backhaul, IPTV, datacenter connectivity, and enterprise vertical applications.

    SDN-ready: And of course, any new architecture will need to address the unpredictable and dynamic traffic demands with software-defined networking (SDN). This requirement becomes more acute as the number and complexity of services continue to grow. An optical network that is software configurable simplifies operations, increases service velocity, and automates provisioning. SDN and a control plane automate the process of activating optical services.

    SDN offers the promise of greater network agility and efficiency through multilayer resource discovery and control as well as dynamic path selection. Based on policy-driven provisioning, SDN simplifies and automates service creation, resulting in swift service innovation and delivery. Software-configurable platforms lay the framework needed to implement SDN in the future.

    And let’s remember, a software-configurable 100G/200G platform that enables a doubling of capacity with the touch of a button results in faster time to revenue.

    Adding it all up
    A network that is scalable, agile, and programmable is critical to minimizing capex and opex. Scalable technology that prevents costly overbuilds and recurring investments in space and power will be paramount going forward. Agile optical networks can meet demand for dynamic services economically; programmability drives higher network utilization without sacrificing network or service reliability.

    To keep up with surging broadband traffic volumes, service providers in virtually every market are moving their optical transmission networks to 40G and 100G. But how long will this be enough? Moving to 200G can protect operator networks from the prospect of premature fiber exhaustion. And they can avoid investment in costly photonic overlays.

    Earl Kennedy is senior product marketing manager, Alcatel-Lucent, IP Transport.

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Jim Theodoras

By Earl Kennedy
Alcatel-Lucent 

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